This is the shocking moment a woman set fire to her boyfriend’s ex-wife’s home with her teen son inside – reportedly because she wouldn’t sign divorce papers.
Chloe Shotton, 23, will spend Christmas behind bars after she was spotted on CCTV pushing a burning rag through a letterbox in a terrifying arson attack that could have killed those inside in North Tyneside.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene in North Shields, in the early hours of July 31 after the homeowner awoke to find her fire alarms blaring and hall filled with smoke.
The victim, Leanne Stildolph, was present in the house in North Shields with her 17-year-old son as well as her friend and her daughter when the fire started.
At a hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw said: “She was woken at 4:55am by her fire alarm. On running downstairs she saw the porch full of smoke with the smell of burning.
“The fire was extinguished prior to the emergency services arriving. The porch area was smoke damaged with the fire not spreading further.
“The defendant had been arrested in respect of other alleged offenses and whilst in police custody she said ‘What happened to that house? Did it burn down? Did the people die?”
Mr. Wardlaw told the court that on checking security cameras, the defendant could be seen posting a letter through the letterbox which had been ignited using a lighter.
Following the attack, officers were able to quickly identify Shotton thanks to the resident’s CCTV and she was arrested on suspicion of arson in just 11 minutes and was charged on the same day and remanded in custody.
On Wednesday, she was sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars after admitting arson with intent to endanger life.
She was also handed a lifetime restraining order preventing her from making contact with her victim.
In a victim impact statement, the woman wrote that she is planning on moving homes in the near future as a result of the arson.
She said: “She (Chloe) is the current partner of my estranged husband of 22 years.
“Since 2019 I have reported a number of incidents against Chloe.
“The incident has had an impact not only on those of the household but also elderly neighbors.”
Shotton, of Backworth, has 39 previous convictions recorded against her for 109 offenses and pleaded guilty to arson being reckless to whether life was endangered.
The court heard she was also subject to a suspended prison sentence for an offense of battery at the time of the blaze.
Mr. Recorder Tony Hawks sentenced her to three-and-a-half years behind bars and told her the consequences could have been far worse.
The judge said: “You’re 23, you’re still very young. You have what I regard as an appalling record.
“Fortunately for you and the occupants, they had a smoke alarm which was activated.
“And so apart from the obvious distress and the damage caused to the house, no one was in fact injured.
“That is not down to any behavior on your part. You had the good sense to plead guilty and I’m sure now you thoroughly regret what you did.”
It had been suggested that the motive behind the attack was because the victim was taking her time in signing the divorce papers.
Geoff Knowles, mitigating, told the court it was clear to him Shotton appeared a “very different lady” to the person who committed this offense.
He added: “Unfortunately it’s clear the trigger for a lot of her behavior is the difficulties she had as a child growing up.”
After learning her fate, an emotional Shotton said: “I’m sorry for interrupting you and I know you’ve already given out a sentence.
“The only reason I have a big record is because I had an obsession with the police and I didn’t get diagnosed with autism until I was 19.
“I didn’t realize I always wanted attention off them but I’ve learned my lesson.”
Detective Constable Callum Dixon, of Northumbria Police, led the investigation and welcomed Shotton’s custodial sentence.
He said: “The excellent footage provided by the victim irrefutably proved Shotton was responsible for starting the fire, and that meant officers were able to arrest her within minutes of the 999 call coming in.
“Her dangerous actions could easily have resulted in numerous fatalities. Shotton endangered the lives of those inside this property, including a child, as well as those in neighboring properties.
“I am therefore pleased that the severity of this offense has been recognized in this custodial term.
“I would like to thank the victim in this case for keeping her cool during what must have been a very frightening ordeal and being able to quickly provide us with CCTV.
“This allowed our officers to act quickly, ensuring that Shotton was swiftly tracked down and brought to justice for her crimes.”