Man set fire to house with four children, including three month old baby, inside it, after he torched motorbike in revenge attack

A man set fire to a house with four children inside it, including a three month old baby, after he decided to torch someone’s motorbike in a petty revenge attack.

John Ginty, 34, used nail polish remover to set fire to a motorbike, which was being stored in the back garden of a property in Middlesbrough. Two explosions were heard as the flames took hold of the end-terrace house.

Teesside Crown Court heard how “the whole family would be dead” if police hadn’t been passing at the time. Officers woke up four children, their mother and her partner and got them out of the address.

Ginty, now of Harbour View, East Sleekburn, near Bedlington, Northumberland, and another man were captured on CCTV leaving the back of the house.

Graham O’Sullivan, prosecuting, said the motorbike belonged to Gavin Blackstone, who lived at the house, in the Hemlington area of the town, with his partner.

He said Mr Blackstone’s brother, Josh, was now in a relationship with Ginty’s ex – the mother of his children – and “this was her explanation as to why her and Gavin had been targeted by the defendant.”

Five children, aged between three months old to 13 years old, lived at the property but one was at a friend’s sleepover on the night of the arson attack.

The family moved away from the area after the incident.

Ginty, formerly of Hemlington, Middlesbrough, was caught on CCTV buying nail polish remover and a lighter from a corner shop 10 minutes before he was captured at the back of the house on October 2 last year.

The prosecutor said: “They entered the rear garden and the fire can be seen starting in the garden. They fled the scene.”

Ginty, who was dubbed the ‘Hemlington Cowboy’, was arrested that day and initially denied responsibility saying he didn’t know who lived at the house.

He pleaded guilty to Arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered, burglary, three counts of theft from a car, Two counts of going equipped for burglary and Two counts of the possession of a knife

In a victim impact statement, the children’s mother said: “My children haven’t settled in school and the older children have had to be home-schooled.

“My younger child is having meltdowns due to what happened, losing memories of her deceased father in that fire. The house that was burnt down was where I lived with my previous partner, who has since died. I had memories there. I could have lost my children’s lives and my own life.”

Dan Cordey, defending, said Ginty hadn’t meant for the fire to spread to the house. He said: “This was an attempt to set fire to a motorbike that got out of hand. He in no way intended to endanger the life of anybody. He accepts he was reckless. He wishes to say sorry.”

Mr Cordey said Ginty has “little recollection of the arson” because he was under the influence of alcohol and medication. He said it was “out of character” for him and “he has a history of low level offending”.

Ginty blew a kiss to Judge Aisha Wadoodi as she told him: “Within minutes three storeys of a house went up in flames. Four children who were asleep had to roused by police and neighbours were evacuated. All three floors of the house were engulfed in flames by the time the fire brigade arrived in seven minutes. The family gave police your name – they believed you held a grudge against Mr Blackstone.

“If the police hadn’t happened to be patrolling past at that time, a whole family would be dead. I do consider it necessary to pass an extended sentence, to protect the public in the future.”

Ginty was ordered to serve five years and three months in prison and an extended licence period of four years in the community – a total sentence of nine years and three months. He must serve two-thirds of his sentence before the parole board can consider him for release.