A DRUNK set fire to a woman’s front door after she refused to have sex with him.
Chris Morris, 26, staggered up to terrified Amber Spurlock as she was letting herself in to her flat in Leigh High Street and yelled, “will you have sex with me? I have not had sex in ages.”
When she told him to leave her alone, he staggered away from her home and set fire to a plastic sign before propping it against her front door and calmly walking away.
CCTV played at Basildon Crown Court yesterday, showed heroic neighbours and staff from the nearby Crooked Billet pub dragging the sign from the doorway, so Miss Spurlock could escape.
Judge Jonathan Black sentenced Morris, who is known around Leigh as James, to two years and eight months in prison for reckless arson, arson and possession of a knife.
Judge Black also praised the quick thinking and actions of those who came to Miss Spurlock’s aid and recommended them for a High Sheriff’s award of £150 each.
The drama unfolded at about 11pm, on October 6, as Miss Spurlock and two pals returned from an evening at the Crooked Billet pub, in Leigh High Street.
As she approached her front door, Morris, who none of the girls knew, stumbled up to them and asked Miss Spurlock if he could come in.
She refused and went in to her flat, but he began shouting that he wanted to have sex with her.
Alan Compton, prosecuting, told the court Miss Spurlock’s friends went home, but kept in contact with her by mobile phone to ensure she was OK.
Morris then started banging on her front door, demanding to use the toilet.
Miss Spurlock told him to leave or she would call the police. He replied: “Be my guest.”
CCTV played in court showed Morris going to the side of Miss Spurlock’s home and setting fire to a large plastic sign, before propping it against her front door and sauntering away.
A staff member from the Crooked Billet tried to move the sign, while a neighbour grabbed a garden hose and began dousing the fire.
Mr Compton told the court a few minutes later fisherman Milo Brown noticed a wheelie bin alight in a cockle shed on the beach near Leigh railway station.
He managed to douse the flames along with firefighters attending Miss Spurlock’s home.
One of the fire crew noticed Morris in the railway station and managed to detain him until police arrived.
Mr Compton added: “Mr Morris was saying ‘I didn’t have anything to do with it. I just want peace man’.
“At that point a kitchen knife fell from his pocket.”
Mike Warren, mitigating, told the court his client had begun drinking after losing his job and a psychiatrist had found he was suffering from psychological problems which could be paranoid schizophrenia.
Morris had admitted one count of arson, reckless as to whether life would be endangered, arson and possession of a 4.5inch steak knife, at an earlier hearing.
Judge Black said: “I have imposed a sentence of two years and eight months to give you the chance to engage with mental health services and to reflect on the crime you committed.”