Pool arson ‘revenge’

A LIT petrol can was hurled through a smashed window by a Portishead mum in an attempted arson ‘revenge attack’ at Portishead Open Air Pool, a court heard.

Well-known community figure and owner of the Lockhouse Bar and Restaurant in Port Marine, Deborah Griffith, wept in the dock at North Somerset Courthouse on Monday as she pleaded guilty to her ‘extremely reckless’ behaviour.

After being stuck in a wrangle with the Portishead Pool Community Trust over its caf�, The Lockhouse Lounge, which she was also managing, Griffith, of Charlcombe Rise, decide to take out her frustration on the venue in the early hours of April 17.

Prosecuting, Becky Gardener, said: “She smashed a window with a stone and then used a metal bin to clear away the glass from the sides.

“She went to the boot of her car and got a five litre diesel can and, with a lighter, lit paper, put it inside the can and threw it through the window.

“There was no fuel in the can but the vapours could be smelt.”

The can did not ignite and aside from the smashed window no damage was done.

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Despite initially denying knowledge of the attack, blood was recovered from the scene by police which belonged to the 43-year-old.

Her fingerprints were also found on the window and CCTV showed what had happened.

The court heard how Griffith and her partner’s lease at The Esplanade venue was terminated by the trust at the end of March due to issues with unpaid bills and late rent.

The trust cut off the electricity during service one day and the locks were changed soon after.

The couple, who said they spent �110,000 on revamping the cafe, felt hard done by and as a result Griffith carried out the spontaneous attack.

In a police interview she said she had no intention of burning the building down and that she just wanted to get back at the trust.

Ms Gardener added: “There was no fire but this was a deliberate revenge attack and damage was done to a public amenity.”

Mitigating, Gareth Needs, said Griffith and her partner of six years had invested cash into the venture on the promise of full tenancy, but instead were left out of pocket because of the trust’s decision to take back the lease.

Mr Needs said: “She is extremely remorseful and has been in tears both this morning and in interview.

“She accepts that she was extremely reckless, but says this was irrational and totally out of character.”

Magistrate Trevor Morgan gave Griffith a 12-month community order which includes 80 hours of unpaid work. She must also pay �175 compensation and �85 court costs.