A MAN who set fire to a house before phoning its owner to gloat about his crime has been jailed for six years.

Paul Riley, 52, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to arson at Chester Crown Court and was sentenced to immediate custody on Friday, December 15.

The court was told how Riley committed his crime on the morning of Tuesday, September 26, at a house in Capenhurst, near Chester and Ellesmere Port, after carefully planning his attack.

Riley then called his victim shortly after setting fire to her home and boasted about the crime, telling her ‘your house is on fire’. She returned to find her family home ablaze.

Police were quickly on the scene where they spotted Riley nearby. As he was arrested he looked puzzled and told officers ‘but there was no one in the house’.

The court heard that officers searched Riley’s room at a hotel in North Wales and discovered receipts for white spirit bought the day before the fire. A bottle of white spirit was also found at scene of the crime.

Sentencing, the judge described Riley’s actions as being clearly “deliberate and spiteful”.

On top of his prison sentence, Riley was also handed a permanent restraining order.

Detective Constable Stephen Owens, of Chester CID, said: “Without doubt the consequence of Riley’s crime has been a traumatic ordeal for the victim and her child.

“It’s sad to think that a cruel, nasty attack has left the family not only without a home at Christmas but all her child’s memories destroyed in the fire. The permanent restraining order handed to Riley provides reassurance and protection to the victim indefinitely.

“The victim and her family have dealt with this admirably and are now rebuilding their lives.”