A LOVESICK man set fire to his ex-girlfriend’s back garden in ‘drunken stupidity’ after failing to cope following their separation.

Louis Smith caused more than £1,000 worth of damage after deliberately setting fire to garden furniture and children’s toys, also damaging the garden fence.

The 34-year-old appeared to be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court, which heard how this was the ‘last straw’ in a campaign of harassment that also consisted of threats.

The defendant threatened to ‘slit the throat’ of his former partner, leaving her feeling afraid in her own home.

Mike Stephenson, prosecuting, explained how Smith’s two-year relationship with his victim came to an end in October 2020, but the pair stayed in contact until the end of December.

At this point, the woman ‘made it perfectly clear’ that this was to end, but this was disregarded by the defendant, who continued to contact her through social media and via text message.

On one occasion, he contacted her while she was at a friend’s house in Crosby and sent pictures of him which appeared to have been taken in the back garden of her Hood Manor home.

Events came to a head on February 21, when Smith was spotted by a neighbour near the victim’s home at 2pm.

Within a few minutes, the neighbour became aware of a fire which had begun in the victim’s back garden.

The victim was not home at the time as she was at a friend’s house, and shortly after the fire was started, Smith sent messages threatening to slit her throat and to stab her friend.

“The fire was clearly the last straw in the victim’s point of view, as well as being an offence in its own right,” Mr Stephenson said.

Following his arrest, Smith pleaded guilty to charges of arson and harassment.

Louis Smith was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

Louis Smith was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

In defence of her client, Carmel Wilde said that his ‘disgraceful behaviour’ was wholly out of character for a man with no previous convictions who has worked all his life since leaving school.

She explained that he was struggling to cope with the relationship breakdown as he still had feelings for his ex-partner, and that he felt depressed during the period of lockdown.

“This goes some way to learn how this young man, who has not been before the court before, acted in this surprising manner,” she said.

Ms Wilde also stated that the defendant was struggling to come to terms with the death of a family member through a battle with cancer, and the fact that another family member was also undergoing cancer treatment.

“His actions were born out of drunken stupidity and the issues in his life,” she added.

“There is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and he poses a low risk of reoffending. He has started to get his act together, is enjoying work and is earning.”

Before sentencing, judge Garrett Byrne said: “In October last year your two-year relationship ended, and in December she made perfectly clear communication was to end.

“Despite that, you entered a two-and-a-half-month campaign of harassing her in several ways. On one day, you phoned her 60 times.

“Most seriously of all, apart from the arson, was you threatening to stab her friend and slit her throat. These are very serious offences indeed.”

But he concluded by stating that on balance, he was prepared to suspend the sentences.

Smith, of Cardigan Close in Callands, was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days, including the building better relationships programme.

He is also now subject to a restraining order banning him from contacting his victim or her friend by any means for two years and ordered to pay £1,080 in compensation to pay for the damage caused.