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'He knew I would be trapped': Woman's horror as friend of 13 years sets fire to home three times

PUBLISHED: 16:28 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:18 10 May 2019

David Turner. PHOTO: Submitted

David Turner. PHOTO: Submitted

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A wheelchair user has spoken of her terror after a friend of more than a decade twice trapped her inside a burning flat.

Police investigating a fire in Salisbury Road, Lowestoft on April 13. Photo: Tom ChapmanPolice investigating a fire in Salisbury Road, Lowestoft on April 13. Photo: Tom Chapman

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, has been forced to take medication to ease terrifying nightmares after David Turner started fires inside his Sailsbury Road home in Lowestoft.

Turner also started a third fire in a wheelie bin outside his front door, which neighbours rushed to extinguish after seeing the flames.

The woman said: "I really do not know why he did it. He said he was in a bad place and he seemed to have changed and got really weird.

"I have never known him to do anything like that before."

The woman, who is unable to walk due to nerve damage in her legs from peripheral neuropathy, has also been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, autism and dysplasia.

She suffered seizures from the flashing lights of the emergency services as they responded to the first fire on April 8.

She said: "The first time he got a wheelie bin, put it outside his front door and lit it up. He closed the lid and kept going to his front door and looking at it. It was like he was getting excited by the smoke.

"His neighbours saw it on fire because he kept lifting the lid and the flames would shoot up. They came over and put the fire out."

Less than a week later, on April 13 at 9.30am, Turner set fire to items inside his flat.

The woman said: "I had just taken my medication which I have to do everyday and I was lying on the sofa because it makes me drowsy.

"The next thing I recall was the alarms going off. It became really dark and thick of smoke.

"I could hear him on the phone to the fire service. Anyone who sees a fire would be panicking, but he was really calm. He didn't sound worried.

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"The firefighters got him out first and they came back for me. We were taken to hospital and I had to be given oxygen for seven hours because they needed to make sure I could breathe."

After the second fire, the woman initially cut contact with Turner, who then started a third fire at the flat earlier this week on May 7.

She said: "He apologised and I forgave him because that is the sort of person I am.

"I needed help so I went back to stay with him. He was meant to be looking after me.

"I took my medication before bed and he said he would take his and go to sleep on the sofa. I woke up when the alarms started going off again.

"I tried to call the fire service because I could see flames by the front door, but my phone wasn't working properly.

"Luckily he had left his smart watch by the bed so I managed to call for help on that.

"I don't remember anything at all after that. I was found face down unconscious. They gave me oxygen again."

The woman lost a number of possessions in the fire, including special trainers to help with her spastic paraparesis, but is grateful to be alive.

She said: "I feel like an idiot. I just thank God I am still alive. If it wasn't for the fire service and police, I could have died.

"After the first fire I had to be put on medication from the doctors to help keep me calm because I was having nightmares, but now that it has happened again I am a nervous wreck.

"I ask myself everyday what I did wrong.

"The worst part is that he knew I would be trapped. I couldn't get out. I had no chance. He knew how much I would have suffered."

Turner appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court on May 9, where he indicated guilty pleas to three counts of arson with intent to endanger life.

Because of the seriousness of the offences, Turner will now appear at Ipswich Crown Court on June 6.

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