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Man unable to escape fire after neighbour allegedly started it in his front door

PUBLISHED: 17:12 17 October 2018

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

A resident of a Lowestoft block of flats was rescued by the fire service and taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation after a neighbour deliberately started a fire outside his front door, it has been alleged.

Keith Allen was asleep on a sofa in his third floor flat in Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, when he woke up at around 7am to the smell of smoke, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

He was unable to get out of his flat because the fire was right by the front door and so he called the fire brigade.

Mr Allen said the fire alarm in the flats was going off and he used a fire extinguisher to try and put out the blaze.

“I was shouting out of the window for help,” he told the court.

He said he remembered the fire service arriving and taking him downstairs.

“It’s a bit of a blur really as I’d breathed in so much smoke,” said Mr Allen.

He was taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation but he wasn’t detained.

Fire officers found combustible material by Mr Allen’s fridge door and could smell white spirit.

Before the court is 63-year-old Stephen Hewitt, who has denied arson with intent to endanger Mr Allen’s life and an alternative less serious charge of arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.

The fire is alleged to have take place on November 17 last year.

Stephen Spence, prosecuting, told the court that Hewitt lived in a ground floor flat in the block of eight flats and Mr Allen lived in a flat on the third floor.

He said that for some reason there had been a falling out between the defendant and Mr Allen and it seemed that it had played on Hewitt’s mind.

In the early hours of November 17, Hewitt allegedly made a false claim to police that Mr Allen had attacked him with a piece of wood and he had then allegedly made a hoax call to the fire service claiming the block of flats he lived in was on fire, said Mr Spence.

When the fire service arrived they found no trace of a fire and left only to be called back two hours later when Mr Allen discovered the fire outside his front door.

The trial continues.

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