AN ARSONIST captured on video footage stuffing lighted toilet paper through a front door letter box mistakenly believed his ex-partner lived in the house.

Carlisle man Wayne McDonald, 30, who had been banned by a court from having any contact with the woman following earlier problems, was actually targeting the home of a couple who were complete strangers to him, the city’s crown court.

He admitted two earlier breaches of his non-contact restraining order and arson while being reckless of whether life was endangered.

Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson outlined the facts.

He said that the arson victim had been at the home she and her partner had bought in the north of Carlisle on November 18 last year when she heard a knock on her front door. Her phone also issued an alert that came from a video doorbell.

On the video footage, she saw a man wearing a hoodie approach the door and knock. “She didn’t recognise the man,” said Mr Rogerson. “The defendant had got the wrong house.

“He believed it was the home of his former partner… because her car was parked close to the property.” Becoming scared when the man tried the door handle, the woman called the police.

As she watched the doorbell footage, the woman noticed sparks near to McDonald and initially assumed he was lighting a cigarette. But he walked back along the driveway toward the door and pushed burning toilet paper through the letterbox.

Mr Rogerson read aloud the woman’s victim impact statement.

She reflected that she was not the only victim, given that the intended target for the arson was McDonald’s former partner but what happened that day had left both her family and herself and her partner distressed.

“She constantly checks the CCTV and no longer feels safe in her house,” said Mr Rogerson.  She also felt uncomfortable leaving the house for fear of what may happen.

“She and her partner worked hard to fund the purchase of their new house,” said Mr Rogerson.

“This attack has greatly tarnished their pride in their new property… She thinks about what could have happened to her house and her dog if she had not been at home.”

Mr Rogerson also outlined the restraining order breaches. One involved McDonald leaving a note on his former partner’s car windscreen, telling her: “I haven’t seen your face for a while. If you know, you know.”

This made the woman fear that the defendant knew where she lived.

In a separate incident, the ex-partner was standing in a Carlisle takeaway restaurant buying food when she looked through the window and saw McDonald on his bike, talking to a female.

As she left, he yelled at her, saying: “What goes around comes around.” He threw a can of something at her car as she drove away.

Jeff Smith, defending, said the defendant had struggled with his mental health but he had not been given the help he needed. “If the community provided more support to people like Mr McDonald he would perhaps not find himself in custody,” said Mr Smith.

The arson attack had arisen out of a sense of frustration in his dealings with his former partner, said the lawyer, adding: “He has also struggled with alcohol for a while.”

Recorder Brian Whitehead jailed the defendant for 35 months. Most of the term – 27 months – was for the arson offence and six months of that term was an activation of a portion of an earlier suspended sentence.

Nine weeks was for the restraining order breaches.