Arson accused claims she was "set up"

Arson probe
Arson probe

A woman has appeared in court accused of an arson attack at a property in Blackpool.

Emma Louise Ashburn, 30, of no fixed abode, is alleged to have started a blaze in the bathroom of the property on General Street on September 20 last year while her partner Peter Johnson was inside.

In a remark to police at the scene, Mr Johnson claimed Ashburn, who he said had been drinking at his home since 10.30am had come out of his bathroom and said: " See how you like it."

But Ashburn, who had to be taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation, told police her ex fiancee and friend had done it in an attempt to 'frame her' because he had refused to give him any money.

Preston Crown Court was told a fire investigation found "it was highly likely a naked flame was held against the toilet roll or shower curtain which created enough heat to ignite other items.

Crew Manager David Duigan, of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, found a toilet roll had been ignited which in turn ignited the shower curtain and other items around the shower tray.

The court heard the total repair bill came to £490, including £250 electrical damage, £180 for joinery work and £60 for other work.

Ashburn, who jurors were told has previous convictions for arson and criminal damage, denies a charge of arson intending to destroy property.

The court heard she had to be helped out of the property by firefighters and appeared to be intoxicated.

In a statement PC Melanie Sherry said she had seen Johnson at the scene who was "intoxicated and unsteady on his feet". He said: "I want her arrested. She did this."

The same officer said Ashburn was uncooperative and had soot around her face and hands. She told the officer: "It wasn't me it was him."

In a police interview the defendant said she had gone to Johnson's flat to talk to him after they had had arguments in the previous days.

She claimed he had hit her with a rolling pin and punched her after asking her for money, which she refused to give him.

She said she had seen them throwing water in the bathroom and added: " They know from the past what I've done, they were trying to set me up because I wouldn't give them any money."

(proceeding)