CHILDREN were left fearing they were going to die after a seething man smashed a door and poured petrol into a home.

Michael Coppendale begged his ex-partner to take him back in Crawley, but when she refused he saw red.

He went to a property where she was staying with a friend and was found inside swigging from a can of lager.

After a confrontation, he left, but stayed outside “stewing” before “lashing out” with petrol.

The women and children, whom The Argus has chosen not to name, were left in “terror”after hearing loud bangs in the middle of the night.

Coppendale, 34, was arrested at first on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

But Hove Crown Court heard how he had “no intention” to ignite the petrol, and he admitted affray and criminal damage by smashing a glass panel on the door.

He was given a 22-month suspended sentence, for reasons explained below.

David Povall, prosecuting, said the former partner had told Coppendale things were over.

The incident happened on June 20 last year in Crawley.

Children could be heard on the 999 call asking if they were going to die.

“He’s going to set it on fire,” a child said.

His Honour Judge Mark Van Der Zwart heard how brute Coppendale has been before the courts for domestic abuse in the past.

He was given a chance to complete the Building Better Relationships programme, but it appears to have made no difference to Coppendale’s twisted thinking.

The judge told him that even the flick of a light switch could have ignited the petrol, putting the children at risk of death.

“The children are going to remember the fear and terror of that night for a very long time,” he said.

But the judge said that because Coppendale was held on remand in prison since June, he had nearly served the first half of the prison term for affray, and would have been released in about one month’s time had a prison sentence been imposed.

The judge said Coppendale, of Cherry Lane, Crawley, had been “reckless and dangerous” and showed no awareness of his victims. He poses a “high risk” of harm and committing a serious or violent offence.

Judge Van Der Zwart imposed a six month curfew, ordering Coppendale to be inside from 9pm to 5am daily.

Coppendale, a builder, must complete 40 rehabilitation sessions with the probation service, and put him under a restraining order not to contact the women directly or indirectly, save for arranging childcare with his ex-partner, for five years.