Naked Doncaster couple fled burning tent in terror after botched revenge attack, court told
Two men helped to set fire to a tent with two people inside it in an arson revenge attack - only to find they had targeted the wrong people.
Joel Harrison, now aged 22, of York Road, Scawthorpe and Gary Beddoes, now aged 29, of Kenneth Avenue, Stainforth admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered on the opening day of their trial in May.
Sheffield Crown Court heard 41-year-old Deborah Scott and her partner Carl Holland, 32, were inside a tent near College Road, between Rowland Place, St James Street and Trafford Way, when the tent was set on fire, in the early hours of August 18 last year.
As the pair tried to escape, they were assaulted. They were left with extensive injuries and spent time in a burns unit.
Ms Scott’s friend Daniel Stewart was sleeping in another tent nearby. His tent was also set on fire, but he managed to escape with minor injuries.
Michael Slater, prosecuting, told the court that the pair - who both first appeared before the court as teenagers - were part of a group who attacked the two tents.
“Daniel Stewart awoke in the early hours to find blows raining down on the tent. He thought that several men were kicking at him through the tent. Then, he realised the tent was on fire. He managed to escape with minor injuries and run for help.
“Deborah Scott and Carl Holland were not so lucky. They woke to find their tent on fire and when they tried to leave they had petrol squirted in their eyes.”
He added that they were both hit with a bat.
The couple, who were naked at the time, finally managed to break out and ran to the near M25 Housing youth hostel for help.
In an impact statement read to the court, Deborah Scott said: “I still get numbness in my fingers and pins and needles in my arms. I might never get full feeling back.
“My life has stopped since this. We could have died, we are lucky to be alive. We were supposed to be sleeping somewhere else that night so we know it can’t have been meant for us.”
Carl Holland said in his impact statement: “I don’t really like to talk about what happened. It could have been so much worse, we could have been burnt alive.”
Pamela Coxon, for Beddoes, said the incident was a revenge attack, but there had been a case of mistaken identity - and although Beddoes set fire to the tent when he realised he had involved innocent people he ran from the scene.
She added that Beddoes later confessed to Deborah Scott’s daughter what he had done.
“He said I am sorry, if I knew it was your mother I would not have done it. He has shown genuine remorse. He accepts full responsibility for what he did, he wishes he could turn back the clock but he can’t.”
Robert Sandford, for Harrison, said he had only carried a bottle of petrol to the scene and had also ran when events escalated.
“Later, when the others who had been involved were laughing about what had happened he called them sick and then became the subject of mockery for that view. He was remorseful.”
He added that, as the youngest of the group, Harrison could be easily led.
Both defendants said they had no part in assaulting the victims.
His Honour Judge Robert Spragg adjourned sentencing until 10am on Thursday September 15.
Jason Vicarage, then 23, and Ricky Lee Andrewatha, then 21, were cleared of charges earlier this year after the case against them was dropped by the court.