A SUSPECTED arsonist tried to torch his neighbour’s flat after she punched him in the face for coming on to her, a court heard.

Two of David Grothier’s neighbours’ flats were set alight with wooden stakes wrapped with material, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

David Grothier, of Chinook, Colchester, denies arson and attempted arson with intent to endanger life, arson and attempted arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered.

But it is alleged he set fire to mother and son Catherine Purchases and Jack Hymus’ flats killing a number of pets.

Mr Hymus, 28, of Colchester, were driving home in March when a neighbour texted with news he and Ms Purchases’ homes in Gazelle Court were ablaze.

The pair and Grothier lived nearby on the Highwoods estate in Colchester and had passed one another in the communal gardens.

Although Ms Purchases said the two were not friends, her son claimed they had drank at each other’s flats.

But on one particular night at her home, things took a wrong turn.


David Grothier, 49, is currently on trial at Ipswich Crown Court

She said in court: “He began stroking my back and tried to kiss me.

“I went to Jack’s flat opposite and he said for me to sort it out myself, so I went back and told David to leave.”

The mum-of-two involved her younger son the following day.

She told the court: “We went over to David’s house and I told him to stop lying to me.

“I told him what he had done to me and he lied and said he had never touched me.

“I then punched him in the face. Me and my son left and I went to A&E because I broke my finger.”


The prosecution said this gave a potential motive as Grothier was annoyed at being confronted.

The fire failed to take hold in Ms Purchases’ flat, leaving just a scorched patch of laminate where the stake landed, but her son’s home was badly affected and a number of pets died.

Grothier said he was having dinner with friend Dave Bates when the fire occurred.

Apart from a trip to Tesco and to claim a discarded fish tank near the entrance of Gazelle Court , he stayed in.

Nicola May, prosecuting, said: “Unfortunately Dave Bates stated something rather different. What he told police was there had been a conversation where the defendant raised an issue with a female.

“This female is Catherine Purchases and after the conversation he said to Mr Bates, ‘I’m going to set fire to the place’.

“Mr Bates was able to see the defendant walking from the living room with two wooden planks he topped with tea towels, and he had in his possession a bottle of lighter fluid.”

However, Grothier claimed Mr Bates’ motive for the allegation was wanting his flat.

Miss May added: “He said he was unpopular and that people had named him as part of a desire to get him out.”

  • The trial continues.