‘He’s free while we’re still living in fear’ - family hits out at early release of Shefford arsonist

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A family living in fear after a Shefford teenager firebombed their house, says they were not consulted about his early release from jail.

Ethan Andrews from Shefford, was jailed last year after setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s rabbit hutch.

The flames spread to the house and the family only managed to escape when a neighbour raised the alarm.

Lauren Reynolds, 19, is now afraid to leave her home, and police have provided her with a panic alarm. There are also extra security measures at the family’s home in Letchworth, including CCTV.

Lauren’s mum Lisa, has slammed Andrews’ early release and says she was not told beforehand about the situation.

“My daughter is very andgry and upset,” she said. “We have to live like prisoners while he has been let out.”

Andrews had been sentenced to 32 months in October last year after pleading guilty to the arson attack.

“We should have been notified that he had applied for early release,” said Lisa.

Lauren now struggles to go out on her own and has been diagnosed with PTSD. She had to give up her college course after the attack because of anxiety attacks.

“She suffers from panic attacks and anxiety and doesn’t go out unless she is accompanied,” said Lisa. “It’s not the way a 19-year-old girl should be living her life.

“At the end of the day she is the victim, We shouldn’t have to have all these precautions in place just so she can feel safe.”

St Albans Crown Court heard last year that the attack happened after Lauren had ended a brief relationship with Andrews, then aged 18. Lauren 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.

Andrews admitted pouring petrol over the rabbit hutch that he knew housed the victim’s much-loved pet Spice’. 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 family, who were in the house at the time, only escaped when a neighbour had got up in the night to attend to a child and spotted the flames.

Andrews was also given an indefinite restraining order.

Lisa says her daughter wants to help others who find themselves in abusive relationships.

“She wants to get the message out they don’t have to out up with this kind of behaviour,” she said. “The message needs to get out there. There’s Clare’s Law, which we need to bring to the forefront to make sure everyone knows about it.”

Clare’s Law, also known as the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme, allows people to find out if their partner has an abusive or violent past.

It is named after Clare Wood, who was killed by her former partner in 2009. She did not know that he had a history of violence prior to entering a relationship with her.

Clare’s Law gives members of the public the right to ask if their partner has a history of violent or abusive behaviour. Checks will be made by police and information will be revealed where there is reason for concern.