A drunken man said to have poured petrol from a can in through the window of a house where his wife was visiting has been jailed.

David Thornley, 42, wanted to frighten those inside into believing that he was going to burn down the house.

His barrister, Matthew Curtis, said while the prosecution had said he started to pour petrol through the window, it was the defence case that petrol was spilt during the struggle that took place.

Thornley, 42, of Shellbrook Drive in Ruabon, admitted making the threat to damage a property at Ruabon on October 12.

He also admitted an earlier assault on his partner dating back to the summer of last year.

Jailing him at Mold Crown Court for 21 months, Judge Rhys Rowlands said Thornley threatened to set fire to the home of a family where his wife had gone.

The judge said in the summer of last year the defendant lost his temper and punched his wife in the face for no reason.

It was a heavy blow and she suffered a suspected fracture to her eye socket.

At the time she did not have the courage to tell the truth and claimed she had fallen downstairs.

This year she came to the conclusion that she wanted a divorce, the original assault was reported by a friend and the defendant was bailed not to approach her.

But despite that he went to the home of a family where his wife had gone.

She was watching television at that house when Thornley arrived in a drunken state asking to speak to her.

He was pushed away from the door, but returned and banged on the door and he was again asked through the window to leave.

But as they tried to close the window he produced a petrol container and started to push the nozzle through the window, said the judge.

There was a struggle and the householder realised there was petrol on his arm.

He managed to get the container off Thornley and to close the window.

The defendant was drunk which explained but did not excuse his behaviour, Judge Rowlands said.

He added the prosecution had previously accepted that he had no intention of setting fire to the house, only to cause those in the house to fear that he was going to.

It was inevitably a very dangerous thing for a drunken man to do.

“You were seeking to intimidate those in the house,” the judge said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Thornley was made the subject of a five year restraining order not to approach the family who lived in the house.

The court was told that his wife had since retracted her complaint.

Prosecutor David Mainstone said that it was the prosecution case that he had assaulted his wife in the past which was supported by medical records which showed hospital visits in 2003, 2013, twice in 2015 and again last year.

A text on his phone read “sorry for kicking you.”

The couple moved to Ruabon after the defendant had a lottery win and last year he punched her in the face hard and she had to get a taxi to hospital because she could not see out of her eye.

In September of this year a friend reported the assault to the police, the defendant was arrested and interviewed, and then rebailed not to contact her.

On October 12 she was at the home of a local family when the defendant turned up drunk wanting to speak to her.

There were raised voices at the door, he was asked to leave but put his foot in the door to prevent it closing.

He was pushed away and left but within five minutes he was back, banging at the door.

Thornley was spoken to through the window and he produced a can of petrol and started to pour it through the open window, he alleged.

He was pushed away and the owner of the house saw that he had petrol on his arms.

There was a struggle as the defendant tried to open the window again and the occupants were “absolutely terrified”, fearing that the house was going to go on fire.

Police intercepted the defendant as he left with the petrol can. He told police “I only wanted to scare them.”

A lighter was found in his pocket, said Mr Mainstone.

In 2013 the defendant had convictions for assault and making a threat to kill.

Mr Curtis said that the couple were in a volatile relationship. Thornley had admitted serious offences for which he was ashamed and very remorseful. He recognised the difficulties that he had.

The incident with the petrol was serious, but it was accepted that he had intended to scare.

There was no suggestion that he intended to carry out the threat and it was his case that he had not actually poured petrol into the house.

Judge Rowlands said: “He wanted them to believe that he was going to set fire to the house. It was absolutely terrifying.”

Mr Curtis said: “He knows that and he is ashamed.”

Following the sentencing hearing Det Insp Mark Hughes at Wrexham CID said: “I hope today’s sentencing brings some degree of justice to his victim and encourages other victims of domestic abuse to come forward. 

“Domestic abuse is a crime and with our partners we will do all we can to eradicate it from our communities and vigorously pursue those who commit these acts.”

“We will continue to work with our partners, victims and offenders to raise awareness of domestic abuse and strive to make our communities safer.

“If you are affected by, or have been a victim of domestic abuse, please follow the links below for support and guidance or contact North Wales Police direct via the web live chat at www.north-wales.police.uk/contact/chat-support.aspx or alternatively phone 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on
0800 555 111.” 

For advice and support visit online at www.north-wales.police.uk/advice-and-support/stay-safe/domestic-abuse.aspx