A family is calling for a tightening of the laws around abusive relationships after a Shefford teenager firebombed their home.
Ethan Andrews is behind bars this week after he set fire to his ex-girlfriend’s rabbit hutch in July. The flames spread to the house and the family only managed to escape when a neighbour raised the alarm.
The house, in Letchworth, was so badly damaged the family have been unable to move back in.
This week the victim’s uncle called for more women and girls to be prepared to speak out if they had concerns about controlling behaviour from a partner.
“If my sister had known [about the threats] she might have reported it to the police,” he said. “If we can help save a girl or woman who reads this and gets out it will be worth it.”
He also called for stricter controls and age limits on filling petrol cans at garages after it was revealed Andrews was just 17 when he bought the petrol which he used for the fire.
“It’s only by luck after a neighbour heard a noise and raised the alarm, that we are not dealing with fatalities,” he said.
Andrews, aged 18, formerly of Shefford Road, Shefford, admitted pouring petrol over the rabbit hutch that he knew housed the victim’s much loved pet ‘Spice’ when he appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Monday. When he lit the accelerant, the resulting explosion blew in patio doors to the property.
The fire swept over the back of the house gutting a living room, destroying garden decking as well as damaging windows and doors to the house and a neighbouring property.
There was nothing left of the rabbit hutch containing Spice and a second pet – a degu – which later also died as a result of smoke inhalation.
The incident followed the break-up of a brief relationship between Andrews and his former girlfriend. The victim, who was aged 18 at the time, had complained that Andrews had been controlling and abusive.
When she broke up with him he tried to pressurise her back into a relationship, making threats against her and to harm her pets.
He was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment for the arson and a further three months to run concurrently for killing the rabbit. He was also given an indefinite restraining order.
Anyone affected by domestic abuse can visit www.hertssunflower.org or call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088 for free information, advice and support. The helpline is open weekdays 9am-9pm and weekends 9am-4pm. In an emergency, always call 999.