AN ABUSIVE boyfriend has been jailed for setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s house with his four-month-old son and her young daughter asleep inside.

Richard Rowe, 31, from Pulborough, bought petrol from a service station and made his way to the home of his ex-partner Jemma Jones in the early hours of July 8 last year, before setting fire to the property and a dog kennel in the back garden.

The blaze at the property in College Road, Southwater, caused the family to fear for their lives, with Ms Jones holding their baby boy out of a first-floor window so he could be rescued by neighbours who set up ladders.

In an impact statement read to the court, Ms Jones said: “He has destroyed everything and everyone.

“I was made homeless as it wasn’t habitable.

“My four-year-old daughter was too scared to go back.

“I have had to rehome my dogs.

“I have no friends or family in the area I have moved to and he has deprived my children of their grandparents.

“My son has been left without a dad. How do I tell him that his own father tried to kill us?”

None of the family or Ms Jones’ friend, who stayed at the house that night, were injured in the fire, apart from a dog that was treated for burns.

Natasha Dardashti, prosecuting, said: “Just after midnight she heard whistling outside.

“She saw him outside and said she would call the police before he got in the car and left.

“She woke later to see her house was on fire.”

Police officers found Rowe’s car a 10-minute drive away from the house.

Rowe previously assaulted Ms Jones, who he had been in a relationship with for one year and nine months, leaving her with two black eyes.

He was convicted for the attack and sentenced to six weeks in prison last January.

Bail conditions were set for him not to contact Ms Jones except through a third party to arrange contact with his son, which he breached and was also arrested for on the day of the fire.

Rowe, who appeared for sentencing via videolink from Lewes Prison, admitted to setting the semi-detached house alight in August last year.

He has now been jailed for six and a half years after pleading guilty to arson by intending to damage or destroy the property and intending to endanger the lives of Ms Jones and her two children.

The extended sentence will also include a licence period of a further three years.

Sentencing him at Hove Crown Court today, Judge David Rennie said: “Nothing can begin to excuse your cold and calculated decision to set at least two fires at the home of your former partner.

“Lives so easily could have been lost.

“Her future plans have been turned upside down all because you couldn’t handle your feelings.”