Arsonists stuffed lit newspaper through the letterbox and cat-flap of a house 36 hours after firebugs torched a nearby shed.

Smoke damage was caused to the front of the terraced house in Helensdene Walk, St Leonards, in last night's fire.

The owners came home at 6pm to find lighted paper stuffed through their letterbox and the cat-flap but the fire had gone out before firefighters arrived.

Fire officials said today a smoke alarm had been fitted at the three-bedroom house but its batteries had been removed.

Scenes of crime officers were investigating the incident, which is being linked to a shed fire within the same grounds early on Christmas Day.