A young mum dangled her baby from a window after her thug ex-boyfriend torched their home while they were still inside.
Yob Richard Rowe, 31, set fire to Jemima Jones’ home and a dog kennel in the back garden – even pouring fuel under her four-year-old daughter’s bedroom window.
Terrified Jemima, 23, woke to smoke filling the house, and had to dangle their four-month-old son out of an upstairs window and into the arms of rescuers.
Violent Rowe – who was jailed in January for beating up his ex – was last week jailed for three-and-a-half years for the arson, which happened a week after they split up.
Jemima, from Horsham, West Sussex, said: “I leaned out the window holding my baby out of it because I knew the smoke would fill his lungs in no time at all.
“My neighbours held out a duvet so I could drop him into it, but then someone else brought a ladder and rescued us both before the fire brigade arrived.
“I owe my life to them.
“He has destroyed everything and everyone.
“I was made homeless as it wasn’t habitable.
“My four-year-old daughter was too scared to go back.
“I have had to rehome my dogs.
“I have no friends or family in the area I have moved to and he has deprived my children of their grandparents.
“My son has been left without a dad. How do I tell him that his own father tried to kill us?”
Rowe poured petrol beneath the window where Jemima’s daughter Roxy was asleep, and doused a dog kennel with fuel before setting it alight at 2.30am, on July 8, 2016.
Jemima awoke to the sound of smoke alarms screeching and her five dogs barking – and ran to check on her four-month-old baby, Swaily (corr).
She said: “I don’t know what woke me up, if it was the smoke alarm or the dogs. I looked down the stairs and my first thought was ‘the house is on fire.’
“I’d turned my phone off as he was ringing me constantly, and switching it on was the longest 30 seconds of my life.”
Terrified Jemima went to wake a friend who was staying, to support her after the split with violent Rowe.
He scooped up Roxy and ran with her down the stairs and past the inferno in the front room, and out of the back door.
There was only one person Jemima could think of who would do such a terrible thing and called 999 and told police: “I think my ex has done this.
“He’s trying to kill us and no-one is doing anything about it.”
Rowe previously assaulted Ms Jones, who he had been in a relationship with for one year and nine months, leaving her with two black eyes.
He was convicted for the attack and sentenced to six weeks in prison in January.
Bail conditions were set for him not to contact Ms Jones except through a third party to arrange contact with his son, which he breached and was arrested for on the day of the fire.
She called a friend to stay with her for support and awoke at 2.30am to find the house was on fire.
Neighbours who heard her screaming came to help and found a dog on a chain pulling the blazing kennel behind it as it desperately tried to escape the flames.
The dog was rescued and treated for burns, but Jemima decided to rehome it.
Agricultural salesman Rowe was arrested hours later and admitted arson with intent to endanger life when he appeared before a court.
Police used automatic number plate recognition to trace his car, and his phone data showed he had bought a can of petrol 30 minutes before the blaze was set.
A judge who jailed him said he had “ruined” lives after setting the fire in a “cold and calculated manner.”
Jemima said she was pleased Rowe had been jailed, but was forced to move across the country to Dorset to a new home.
She is now trying to recover from her ordeal.
Rowe was sentenced to three-and-a-half-years at Hove Crown Court on March 7, and was also handed a three-year licence upon his release.
Judge David Rennie said: “You set two seats of fire in a cold and calculated manner. It beggars belief that you did that knowing that there were two children in the house.
“Lives may not have been lost – but lives have been ruined. The victims will never be able to understand why you did what you did that night.”
Detective Constable Rees Hopcraft said: “There can be no doubt that his actions were beyond simple arson and were aimed at deliberately targeting the lives of those inside the house.”
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