Man allegedly set fire to own home he was renovating, court hears

ipswich crown court

Dean Clark has gone on trial at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A man has gone on trial accused of arson after he allegedly set fire to his own home before flames spread to neighbouring properties. 

Dean Clark, 58, was the owner of a house in Maidstone Road, Lowestoft, and was renovating the property, a jury at Ipswich Crown Court heard. 

On 8.09pm on March 19, 2019, the fire service was called to a blaze at the property, which was later found to have been started deliberately, Hugh Vass, prosecuting, told the jury. 

Two neighbouring properties in adjoining Selby Street were also "seriously damaged" by smoke during the blaze, Mr Vass said. 

Clark was seen buying 5.6 litres of petrol from a nearby garage at Asda at 7.32pm, and was captured on CCTV at Premier Stores at 7.46pm where he bought cans of Stella Artois and used the ATM, the jury heard. 

The shops are less than a five-minute drive to Clark's home and his van runs on diesel, Mr Vass said. 

Clark's Ford Transit van was also seen leaving the area by a neighbour after she heard a loud bang, and the spout of a petrol can was found in his van, the court heard. 

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Mr Vass told the jury there was an "overwhelming inference" to be drawn from the purchase of petrol and the fact Clark did not call the fire service despite being in the area. 

Giving evidence on the first day of the trial on Wednesday, a neighbour explained that she heard "a loud bang" on the evening of March 19. 

She and her partner then looked out of their upstairs window and could see flames inside the house and thick black smoke billowing out. 

She said she saw a Ford Transit van reversing around the corner before it turned around and left the scene. 

The woman then came downstairs and found other people outside moving their cars. 

She told the jury she was aware of the man who was renovating the property and he often came to do work at night. 

Clark, now of Anchor View, Wisbech, denies a single charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. 

The trial continues.