Spurned stalker jailed for hiring ‘firebomb hitman’ to burn down woman’s Salford home after one night stand

A jilted stalker who hired a firebomb hitman to burn down the Salford home of a girl in revenge for her dumping him after a one night stand has been jailed for eight and a half years.

Failed soldier Aiden Feeney, 24, was so angry at being rejected by Scarlett O’Connor he paid a teenager £850 to put firelighters through her front window and set them on fire.

Scarlett, 22, was thought to be staying at friends but the 5am blaze woke older sister Lauren, 29, who also lived at the address, and she was forced to flee for her life in her pyjamas as the fire swept through the property.

Miraculously, Lauren escaped uninjured but the blaze severely damaged the terraced property in a quiet cul-de-sac in , near Salford, Greater Manchester.

Officers who investigated discovered obsessed Feeney had sent up to 3,000 text messages in just four days to Scarlett begging her to go out with him after he obtained her tickets for a music festival.

Manchester Crown Court was told that when she refused, he made threats to her life, and boasted of knowing someone who would burn her house down for money.

Mr Barrie Darby prosecuting said: “The contact increased significantly in number becoming threatening over a period of time. He started to issue threats saying he would ‘waste her’.

“By speaking to a friend of Scarlett’s he made reference to ‘ripping her head off.’ He said he had a contact who would burn down her house for £1000.”

Scarlett was so distressed that she since fled to Australia following last September’s arson attack, the court heard.

Officers spoke to Lauren, who was too scared to move back into the house, and described Feeney’s revenge as ‘ridiculous.’

Feeney, of Brackley Street, Walkden, was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder but he was later convicted of arson with indent to endanger life. He admitted two counts of aggravated harassment. 

Firebomb hitman Tyler Bennett, 19, of Highgate Drive, Little Hulton was jailed for four years after admitting arson.

The attack had arisen out of a bitter dispute over an £80 payment for a ticket given by Feeney to Scarlett for the Creamfields festival near Liverpool, where The Prodigy were headlining.

The pair had a one night stand but when Scarlett said she did not want a relationship with Feeney he began to terrorise her.

During the campaign of terror a car belonging to Lauren was vandalised and the threats led to firefighters carrying out a ‘priority home fire risk assessment’.

Officers had installed extra smoke alarms and taped up the letterbox of the house as a precaution.

Eventually Bennett, who had known Feeney for just a week, was given £850 to carry out the job of burning down the house.

He was picked up by a taxi driver and taken to the house where he set the blaze. The firelighters ignited the curtains and the blaze swept through the downstairs of the property. 

Mr Darby added: “Tyler Bennett was initially going to put the fire lighter through the letter box however it was already secured by the fire service. That is why he put it through the window.”

Lauren was first alerted to the fire when her pet cat woke her up then the fire alarms went off and saw flames outside her bedroom window.

Lauren said: “I feel horrendous and shocked at what’s happened.  I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about it – to watch my own house go up in flames. It was the worst day of my life.

“When I ran outside I couldn’t even look back at my own house. I didn’t want to think that my house was going up in flames. We’ve lost loads of stuff.

“We lost all of the furniture, the TV, all electronic items. Everything that didn’t go in the fire is water damaged from where they put it out. It has scared the living daylights out of us.”

Feeney was arrested shortly afterwards and Bennett who claimed he thought the house was empty was traced after being recognised by the taxi driver.

The court heard Feeney, who tried and failed to get into the army, had convictions for arson harassment after he pestered a previous girlfriend.

He made no comment in police interview and declined to give evidence at his trial.

In mitigation defence counsel Michael Johnson said: ‘’Mr Feeney was in some distress perhaps because of inadequacies with dealing with relationships that end and which perhaps goes back to his issues in his past which are no fault of his own.

“Put shortly, where he was at the time he was in a state of distress and turmoil. He is not there now.”

But passing sentence Judge Martin Rudland said: ‘’All these offences arise out of your friendship with Scarlett O’Connor. For a time you enjoyed each other’s company but a time came when it deteriorated rapidly.

‘’You saw something beyond the platonic which no doubt was encouraged by the one night stand. For her this changed nothing and she said as such but this infuriated you.

“The text messages show increased frustration culminating in threats to her life and well-being. The fire spread rapidly and set fire to furniture and caused damage of up £18,500. Lauren said she was terrified.

‘’She saw flames, smoke and could see possessions burn. She was physically retching.  Lauren then saw a row of fire lighter in a row on the ground under the window.

“You must both understand use of fire is an extremely serious form of criminality. Fire is a fickle mistress.”

Scarlett’s sister, Lauren told police how shocked she was that someone could go to such lengths just becuase they had been rejected.

“I can’t believe someone would resort to damaging property, threatening people and setting fire to the house just because someone would not go out with him,” she said.

“The fact that he would do such a thing is very scary.

“There is still the chance someone else could do this again on their behalf. I am not living in the home due to the fire damage and I am scared to go home. I am also scared for my sister and her friends.”

Speaking outside the court after Feeney and Bennett’s conviction, Lauren spoke of how the ordeal has had a lasting effect on her and her sister.

She said: “It was horrible coming out of that house. It was so scary. You just do not expect anything like that to happen to you in your entire life, ever.

“He was going to put it through the letter box. They had closed it up. That would have been a very different story if that had happened. That is our only way out.”

She added:  “In the lead up to the attack there was something like 3000 text messages in the space of 4 days. It is absolutely ridiculous. My sister is in Australia now to get away from it all.

“We are happy with the verdict and relieved but just because they had said ‘I am sorry’ do not mean it will stop them. He has done it before. He could do it again when he get out.

“He was just crazy for Scarlett. It is going to be a massive panic when he gets let out.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

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