'I no longer feel safe': Councillor haunted by arson attack on his home as offender is jailed

A councillor says he continues to fear for his life after an arsonist torched his car on his driveway while he slept.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 5:13 pm

Ian Womersley, who serves on Hemsworth Town Council and Wakefield Council, admitted he and hi wife are haunted by the incident, feels they are being forced to move house and says he feels like a child again, having to sleep with the lights on.

The 62-year-old read out an emotional impact statement at Leeds Crown Court during the sentencing of Jordan Luke Crompton this afternoon, who admitted being part of a gang who targeted the property in Hemsworth on the night of November 30, last year.

They threw a chunk of concrete through his front window, then poured a flammable liquid over his Mercedes before setting it on fire and fleeing.

Crompton was jailed for 32 months.

Fighting back tears, Coun Womersley, who is a former kickboxer and has an MBE for his community work, said: "On the night of the incident, my life changed dramatically, I no longer feel safe.

"I have never met or spoken to these individuals, or know anything about them.

"When you lit that fire on that terrible night, your actions could have resulted in fatal consequences.

"The loss of my car does not bother me but the thought that we could have died in our sleep is breaking my heart.

"Every night, we do not sleep, or when we do, it's intermittently.

"We are terrified you will return as a result.

"I'm not afraid to admit your reckless and malicious actions have left me and my wife very frightened about what has happened, and more importantly, what could have been."

Prosecutor Michael Greenhalgh said that on the night of November 30, at around 9.40pm, Mr Womersley had been in bed, drifting off to sleep when he heard a noise that startled him.

He ran downstairs and opened the backdoor and saw flames under the boot of the Mercedes, which was parked under a carport on the driveway.

He later told the emergency services that he thought fuel had been poured over the car and then set alight.

He rang 999 and also alerted his neighbours as the blaze spread to the carport.

He also noticed the front window of the house that had been smashed, which is what had woken him.

Fire crews were able to put the flames out, but the £13,000 Mercedes was written off, there was £3,000 damage to the carport and £300 damage to the front window of the house.

Coun Womersley said he could not think of a reason why anyone would want to target his home, but said working as a local councillor he could often have disputes with people.

Police later found fingerprints on the house gate that matched Crompton's and he was arrested the next day.

A petrol cannister was also recovered from his home.

He initially denied any involvement, but then accepted he was with two other males, and had been brought along as a lookout.

He said that he was contacted by another man, with whom he had done legitimate jobs with in the past for cash in hand, and had no idea where they were going that night and for what reason.

The two other males were never traced by police, however, Crompton's basis of plea was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Crompton, 23, of Brierley in South Yorkshire, admitted a charge of arson being reckless to whether life was endangered.

He has 10 previous convictions for 17 offences, including robbery and violence.

Mitigating, Naakesha Michl, said that Crompton was coerced into attacking the property and believed it would have been a legal job in which he was being asked to get involved.

Judge Simon Phillips QC jailed him for 32 months, and gave him an indefinite restraining order to keep him away from the victims.