A COUPLE told of their nightmare after their home was gutted in a suspected arson attack.

The house in Ewart Street, Hanover, Brighton, was broken into and set alight in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police are now investigating the fire as a suspected arson attack.

The homeowners, couple Jamie Walsh and Rachel Guttridge, who had only moved into the terraced house four months ago, said they were dumbfounded by the attack and called it a “nightmare”.

Mr Walsh, 35, said: “We left our house to celebrate my birthday in London around 4pm on Saturday.

“Then we later got a phone call from the fire brigade to say the property was on fire.

“We got here about 1am and the fire had been put out. Luckily the house rabbit in the kitchen was saved.

“It is our first home after getting engaged and we haven’t got any enemies and love this area.

“Now we may have to wait until January for our insurance claim to be processed. It was meant to be our first Christmas in the house.

“It is now starting to sink in. Going in there, it is an absolute bombsite. Since Saturday it has been an absolute nightmare.”

Firefighters were called just after midnight on Sunday when a neighbour reported the smell of burning.

The crew battled to save the home but the fire caused extensive damage to the ground floor and rear of the property.

Nobody was injured.

One neighbour, who did not want be named, said it was lucky the fire did not spread to the adjoining properties.

The 53-year-old said: “I woke up at 2am and there was a fire engine in the street.

“The suspected arsonist could have killed somebody, it is mad.

“I’m lucky it did not catch to my property. It’s absolutely nuts.”

The couple believe the person or people responsible jumped over several garden fences to break into the back of the terraced house.

They said neighbours reported banging at the house.

The intruders had unlocked the front door and left it open on Saturday evening.

Police believe the fire was started deliberately.

Detective sergeant Joseph Jardine said: “We are investigating the exact cause of the fire but we believe it was started deliberately.

“We have spoken to a number of neighbours but are appealing to anyone who saw anything else on Saturday night or early hours of Sunday morning in the Ewart Street, Islingword Street or Southover Street area.

“Thankfully no-one was hurt.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.

When contacting Sussex Police quote the serial 7 of December 3.