Ex-boyfriend jailed after killing rabbit in Letchworth revenge arson
PUBLISHED: 16:22 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:31 16 October 2018
A teenager from Clifton was sentenced to 32 months in prison yesterday after admitting to a reckless arson that destroyed his ex-grilfriend's home in Letchworth and killed her pet rabbit.
Ethan Andrews poured petrol over the rabbit hutch – which was in the garden of the house in West View and housed the victim’s pet rabbit Spice – before lighting it, resulting in an explosion which blew in the patio doors of the property.
There was nothing left of the rabbit hutch containing Spice, and a second pet – a degu – also later died as a result of smoke inhalation.
Andrews’ actions followed the break-up of a relationship he had with the victim.
It was reported that Andrews, now 18 but who was 17 at the time, had become controlling and abusive. When she broke up with him, he tried to pressurise her back into a relationship and made threats against her and her animals.
In the early hours of July 16, Andrews drove to her home where she lived with her family and started the fire. Officers arrested him hours later, finding petrol in a jerry can and a lighter in his car.
He admitted to arson ‘reckless as to whether life was endangered’ and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Andrews – formerly of Shefford Road, Clifton – was sentenced to 32 months in prison at St Albans Crown Court for the arson, and a further three months to run concurrently for killing the rabbit. He was also given an indefinite restraining order.
Lisa Reynolds, the victim’s mother, has said that she is angry about Andrews’ sentence, and explained how his actions have affected her family.
She told the Comet: “He got 32 months when – if it wasn’t for the hot weather and the explosion waking us up – we could have all ended up dead. “My daughter is suffering the most, she’s not in a good place.
“She doesn’t feel that she has got justice for her animals that died.
“He used the fact that she has a passion for animals against her to have the maximum impact, because he knew this would devastate her.
“He got three months for killing the rabbit – that’s nothing. He doused that cage in petrol and burnt the rabbit alive.”
Months on, the family are still unable to return to their home, which is yet to be repaired and has now suffered further damage due to the recent wet weather.
“It wasn’t just my house that was affected, it was my next door neighbour’s too,” Lisa continued.
“He put nine people’s lives in danger, as well as the life of an unborn child.
“Because he was only 17 when it happened he got a lesser sentence.”
Det Con Colin Workman from Herts police said: “It is clear from the fire investigation that numerous lives were put at risk by Andrews’ actions, including the life of an unborn baby.
“The explosion was so large it woke up neighbours and it was only their quick actions in raising the alarm that stopped lives being lost.
“If this had not happened toxic smoke would have continued to pour into bedrooms where people were sleeping – potentially killing them before they even woke.
“Andrews planned this attack to get back at the victim. It was an act of pure callousness to target a rabbit in order to achieve this goal.
“His deliberate actions caused immense distress and harm to the victim and her family. I hope this sentence allows them to start putting these terrible events behind them.”
Lisa added: “He did it out of malice and wanting revenge.
“This stemmed from an abusive, controlling relationship and if anybody is in that situation, you need to get help.
“They need to try to get out of it as soon as possible – that’s what my daughter did and he wasn’t happy about it.
“It was only a four-month relationship and this is what he did.
“My daughter is not going to get over this in the 32 months that he got. It’s going to take years to get over this.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else, but I know that there are people out there that go through this every day.”
Anyone affected by domestic abuse can visit www.hertssunflower.org or call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08088 088088 for free information, advice and support.
The helpline is open weekdays 9am to 9pm and weekends 9am to 4pm. In an emergency, always call 999.