A DISGRUNTLED tenant who owed £800 in rent set fire to a house full of people, a court heard.

Olayinka Huthman is standing trial for allegedly starting a fire at a multiple occupancy house in Hastings Road, Southend in May last year.

The 33-year-old denies arson with intent to danger life and arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered.

Richard Scott, prosecuting, told a jury at Basildon Crown Court that Huthman had been living with four other people for around six months and he owed the landlord £800 in rent.

Mr Scott said things began taking a sour turn after the landlord put a letter under his door asking for the rent.

Huthman’s housemates begun hearing banging noises from the room on May 4.

He said: “The noise started again later that morning, close to 11am he [another housemate] was so annoyed by it he left the house to escape from the sound of the banging.

“He returned to the house at 10pm that night and there was still a great deal of noise coming from some direction, the direction of Mr Huthman’s room.”

Fire - The blaze happened in Hastings Road, Southend

Fire - The blaze happened in Hastings Road, Southend

Mr Scott said two housemates knocked on Huthman’s door to confront him about it on May 6 to no avail.

At around 10.30am, the smoke alarms went off, and a housemate saw thick black smoke and raised the alarm to everyone else.

Mr Scott continued: “Everyone left the house apart from Huthman, because he had already left.

“As they were leaving they were confronted in their own home by thick black smoke.

“At the time it looked like that the thick black smoke was emanating from Huthman’s room.”

The fire brigade were called as well as the landlord, while Huthman returned to the house later in the afternoon after allegedly fleeing.


Mr Scott said: “He was seen by the landlord and the look on his face was described as aggressive by the landlord.

“But he didn’t seem especially perturbed about the state of his room.

“The prosecution say he may not have been worried about the state of his room because he expected the room to be like that, because he started the fire.”

Mr Scott told the jury Huthman was arrested and claimed he knew nothing about the fire until his return to the property.

The trial continues.