A woman torched the home of her former lover after he spurned her advances before boasting about it on Facebook, a court was told.
Jayne Bladen, 47, had earlier bombarded Norman Terrell with 26 text messages telling him she wanted to see him inside his holiday caravan in Cayton, which had become his permanent home. About an hour before the blaze, Mr Terrell, 51, received a chilling text from Bladen which read: “I’m outside yours.”
Still he refused to let her in, prompting Bladen to bang on his doors and windows, York Crown court heard.
At about 4am, David Kaye, a resident at the Cayton Bay Holiday Park, was walking to the beach with a metal detector when he saw a huge pall of black smoke coming from one of the static caravans in a block of holiday homes known as the Ivy. The front door was ablaze along with a motorbike parked in front of the caravan.
The startled holidaymaker rushed over and started banging on the outside of the caravan in the hope of alerting anyone inside. Moments later, Mr Terrell, wearing a dressing gown, ran out of a patio door to safety on the other side of the static.
By now, other holidaymakers gad gathered to watch the unfolding drama and someone fetched a fire hose and tried to connect it to the water supply next to the caravans. However, it was discovered that someone had sabotaged the water tap underneath Mr Terrell’s caravan prior to the fire taking hold.
“As the tap was turned on, no water came out,” said Mr Campbell. “At some point between 2am and 3.45am, somebody must have turned off the water tap on the outside of the caravan.
The fire brigade arrived to douse the flames but the blaze had already destroyed the front door and motorbike.
A subsequent fire report stated that the blaze had been started deliberately at two points around the caravan and spread quickly, but there was no evidence of any liquid accelerant having been used.
Bladen was seen to leave the site in a taxi not long after the fire started, but she was later arrested at her home in Royal Avenue, Scarborough.
She was charged with arson with intent to damage property and endanger the life of Mr Terrell, which she denied.
Bladen appeared for the start of a scheduled three-day trial at York Crown Court on Monday. She sat impassive in the dock as barrister Ben Campbell gave the prosecution’s account of what happened in the early hours of June 20.
Mr Campbell said that metal detectorist Mr Kaye, who was holidaying with his family, was walking past the Ivy block when he saw the huge cloud of black smoke coming from Mr Terrell’s caravan.
He tried to open the door to the caravan but it was locked.
“He banged and kicked at the door, shouting, trying to rouse any occupant that might have been inside,” said Mr Campbell.
“He was growing panicked. He managed to make enough noise to cause the man in the caravan, Norman Terrell, to become aware of the situation. Mr Terrell had been in bed. He came out of a door onto the patio. He saw the flames, jumped down the steps and out of the caravan.”
Mr Campbell said Bladen had been in a relationship with Mr Terrell since early January, but this ended in April when he suspected she had been seeing another man.
But Bladen continued to give Mr Terrell “attention he didn’t want”, occasionally leading to arguments.
“On one occasion, she made a threat to him to burn his caravan and motorbike down,” said Mr Campbell. “That threat was not just said once to him, but something that she would repeat to others in the weeks and months leading up to the (alleged) offence.”
Mr Campbell said that on June 19, the day before the attack, Bladen and Mr Terrell saw each other briefly in a pub before he returned to his caravan to watch TV.
“There had been some contact between the two by text during the evening,” said Mr Campbell. “Jayne Bladen asked him if she could come round to his caravan.
“She was denying she had got a new man. He was nodding off and going to bed. He heard a knock on the door and her voice saying, “let me in; open the door”. She was banging on the bedroom windows and trying the doors, but he had locked them earlier.”
Bladen then bombarded Mr Terrell with about five phone calls in the space of a minute, which went unanswered.
“He pretended to be asleep and made loud snoring noises in the hope that she would go away,” said Mr Campbell. “Then it all went quiet and he thought she had gone away.”
A holiday-park worker later checked Bladen’s Facebook page, which included the following post logged at 4.20am: “It’s hot in Cayton tonight need open windows.”
The court heard that the caravan belonged to Mr Terrell’s sister Norma Tetley, who had given it to her brother because he had nowhere to live. Mrs Tetley said she and her husband had paid £22,307 for the caravan but her brother could no longer use the charred static and she couldn’t afford to replace it.
The trial continues.