Four people have been jailed for a total of 21 years and eight months for their role in a "cowardly" arson attack that targeted a domestic abuse victim.

Lee Good, 27, Vicky Hook, 29, and Charles Barber, 33, all of Flanders Field, Colchester, and Martin Good, of St Anthony’s Drive, Chelmsford, were all convicted of arson with intent to endanger life.

They were sentenced at Basildon Crown Court yesterday.

On April 7, last year, the gang went to a home in Roseberry Court, Benfleet, at about 3am.

They poured petrol on the front door and along the only escape route before setting it alight and running off.

Three people in the home were woken up by the smoke alarm and saw the front door was on fire.

They managed to escape unharmed but told police officers they could smell petrol.

Witnesses also reported seeing a black Vauxhall Astra driving away from the scene.

Two hours later police stopped a car matching the description in Colchester and the vehicle had the smell of petrol inside. Lee Good, Hook and Barber were inside the vehicle and arrested.

Checks on Lee Good’s mobile revealed he had an image of the property in his gallery and had a text message conversation with his brother planning the fire and praising each other following the attack.

Forensics also found traces of petrol on the back seat of the vehicle stopped by police.

Detective Inspector David Miles said: “This was a targeted attack linked to the innocent victim of domestic abuse.

“It was a pre-planned and cowardly attack to create as much danger as possible for the occupants as they slept in the early hours.

“Fortunately, the smoke alarms sounded and woke the occupants in time for them to escape safely.

"If they did not wake up, they could have been seriously hurt or even killed. 

“All four defendants showed no remorse to their victims, or that their actions could easily have endangered neighbouring homes during this attack.

"They will now have time to think about the consequences of their actions in a prison cell.”

Martin Good, who denied the offence but was found guilty after a trial, was jailed for eight years.

His brother Lee Good pleaded guilty in August last year and received a seven year sentence.

Barber and Hook admitted the offence in July last year and were sentenced to three years and four months each.