Ex-police officer who torched partner's home is jailed

Ex-police officer who torched partner’s home while she and three children were inside in blaze that killed family dog is jailed

  • Stephen Light, 49, ignited petrol from jerry cans following row with Sonia Norris
  • His ex and her children escaped the former Netherton vicarage, in Maryport 

A former police officer and Royal Navy veteran has today been jailed for setting his ex-partner’s home on fire while she and her three children were inside.  

Stephen Light, 49, sparked petrol from jerry cans following a row with his ex Sonia Norris and torched the former Netherton vicarage at Church Terrace, Maryport, Cumbria.

The blaze on June 13 raged through the property, destroying the family home and killing their pet dog.

The family managed to escape when one of the children woke Ms Norris and yelled the house was on fire, who then screamed at everyone else to get out of the house.

One teenage child was in the shower at the time when his girlfriend said: ‘Steve’s lit the f****** house on fire.’ 

Ms Norris attempted to put out the flames with water and then spotted Light going into the burning building to find the dog. He was later seen outside wearing only his boxer shorts. 

Stephen Light, 49, torched the former Netherton vicarage at Church Terrace, Maryport, Cumbria after a row with his ex Sonia Norris 

She said: ‘I am absolutely devastated that he could do this to me and my family. We all could have died. I am worried if he gets out what he will be capable of doing to us.’

Light, formerly of Church Terrace, Maryport, admitted arson with intent to endanger life. He appeared at Carlisle Crown Court today where he was put behind bars for seven-and-a-half years. 

The court heard five areas of two rooms were found to have been covered in accelerant. The home is likely to be demolished.   

David Polglase, prosecuting, said: ‘Flames were seen to be billowing out of the patio doors and people were shouting for the defendant.’

He added: ‘Multiple people were endangered.’

Light had attempted self-harm weeks before the fire amid a mental health crisis. 

Defence barrister Peter Wilson said a psychiatric report highlighted a significant mental health decline since 2017 for Light, formerly of Church Terrace, Maryport.

‘The defendant describes being exposed to traumatic situations during naval operations in Bosnia in the 1990s, and then repeatedly through a 22-year career as a police officer,’ said Mr Wilson.

Light had also penned a letter to the court. ‘It is a letter of apology,’ said Mr Wilson. ‘He wants the victims to know how sorry he is.’

Light initially claimed he was asleep and had woken up to find the house on fire. His story changed when he was later interviewed by police when he claimed he accidentally kicked a jerry can which knocked over a candle.    

Trainee Detective Constable Alex Chalker said: ‘Witnesses seen Light coming from the garden after the occupants narrowly escaped the fire, seemingly watching the fire unfold, before he attempted to assist in rescuing animals from the property by smashing windows.

‘Following a joint investigation Light’s claims were not plausible with multiple areas found in the property covered in fuel accelerant.’

Light was also sentenced today for breaching a restraining order and attempting to damage property. 

Light, formerly of Church Terrace, Maryport, admitted arson with intent to endanger life. He appeared at Carlisle Crown Court where he was put behind bars for seven-and-a-half years

These offences occurred as he was caught on CCTV launching two missiles towards windows of the neighbour’s house, in July 2021, in the dead of night while wearing a balaclava.

The court heard Light was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2018. This followed service in the Navy and police force.   

That year, while employed as a Northumbria Police sergeant, Light was jailed for attacking his parents’ Workington neighbour with a metal kitchen roll holder.

Judge Nicholas Barker said Light was a dangerous offender and directed him to serve two-thirds of his sentence before being eligible for parole, plus an extended two-year licence period.

‘The fire that was caused was done so at night time when people were in bed and asleep,’ said Judge Barker. 

‘So they were also in a state of great vulnerability. The speed at which fires of this sort spread, as indeed it did on this occasion, can cause people grave danger to their lives.’

He added: ‘There was undoubtedly an intent to endanger life. There was a high risk of serious injury to the four occupants of the property. There also has been caused a very high value of damage.’

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