A ‘VULNERABLE’ dad angry at being made 'homeless' during the coronavirus crisis carried out a ‘revenge’ arson attack on a caravan site office, setting it on fire with petrol and suffering burns himself.

Robert Swain can be seen on the CCTV footage stepping back from the blaze as it ignites with a bright flash at the Coppice Leisure Park in Wichenford, near Worcester.

The 61-year-old, of no fixed abode, was living on the site when he caused the fire at 1.30am on April 7 this year. He had already admitted the 'reckless' arson attack when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday.

Ian Ball, prosecuting, said of the fire: “It turns from night to day. There’s a figure backing off, perhaps Mr Swain having burnt himself.”

Swain used petrol from a jerrycan to start the blaze. The fire service and police were called as site managers tackled the fire themselves.

“Mr Swain was arrested, smelling of drink” said Mr Ball.

In the police car after his arrest Swain told officers: “I know I’ve been naughty. I just had a drink and lost it.”

Later, in a police interview, he told officers the fire had been ‘payback’ because he been told he and his family would have to leave the site.

He had drunk strong cider, describing himself as ‘nine out of 10’ on a scale of drunkenness. He apologised and said he regretted his actions.

Swain had previous convictions for assault occasioning actual bodily harm from 1978, common assault from 2000 and battery from 2004 but no relevant offences on his record.

The court heard that Swain had already paid £5,165 towards the cost of the damage he had caused. As well as damaging the door of the office lodge, the blaze also damaged a car and decking.

The site manager said she had suffered sleepless nights and anxiety as a result of the arson attack in a victim personal statement.

Mr Ball said: “It is some sort of revenge attack and accelerant had been used.”

Chole Griggs, defending, said: “He only falls to be sentenced for setting the office door alight. He was not charged with attempting to set his own lodge alight and denies he did try to do that.”

Miss Griggs said her client had health problems including Spinocerebellar Ataxia while his wife and daughter both suffered from asthma. Swain is also awaiting ‘imminent’ bowel surgery. Although living in temporary accommodation the family hope to move to Malvern, she said.

The advocate added: “He was repeatedly ordered by the site manager of the leisure park to vacate the lodge which would have rendered them homeless because it was their full-time residence.

“It is evident from the content of the emails that, at the time, Mr Swain was experiencing an immense amount of pressure and the reality was that a medically vulnerable person, through no fault of their own, was being forced to become homeless in the middle of a national health pandemic.

“At the time he made this decision to set the door alight he was in a state of despair.”

She argued that the arson was 'not sophisticated' and added: "He burnt himself in the process of setting the fire."

Swain had paid £140,000 for the lodge and had been forced to sell it ‘at a great loss’ for just £24,000.

She described the attack as ‘wholly out of character’ and referred to the fact he had already paid back the cost of the damage which she said demonstrated his remorse.

He had also admitted the offence at the earliest opportunity.

Judge Nicholas Cole said Swain had ‘acted in a stupid manner, dangerously and without regard to the consequences’. However, he accepted Swain was ‘under some considerable pressure’, that his actions had been ‘impulsive’ and that the defendant was ‘vulnerable’ with regard to his health. He said in imposing a sentence he needed to consider the issue of deterrence.

The judge sentenced Swain to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months, ordered him to complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and placed him on a four month curfew (not electronically monitored) between 8pm and 7am.

This will be at his temporary accommodation at an address in Hallow. An indefinite restraining order was imposed which prohibits him from having contact, directly or indirectly, with the complainants, from going to the leisure park in Wichenford and from visiting the Masons Arms in Wichenford.