Man torched home of former friend after ‘dispute over boxing gloves’

Stephen Robertson started a fire at Brian Hendry's house in Renfrew last May.

Man torched home of former friend after ‘dispute over boxing gloves’ Google Maps

A man torched the home of a former friend while the victim and his family were inside during a reported dispute over boxing gloves.

Stephen Robertson, 50, started the blaze at the house Brian Hendry shared with his wife Nicola, both 48, and deaf son Ethan, 21.

A judge watched CCTV footage of the fire ripping through the property in Renfrew, Renfrewshire, on May 23, 2021, as the family slept.

The trio luckily managed to escape the inferno which wrecked the house leaving a £140,000 repair bill.

On Tuesday, Robertson pled guilty at the High Court in Glasgow to the attempted murder of the family by wilful fire-raising.

He also admitted a separate charge of breaching his bail conditions.

The court heard the family’s seven-year friendship with Robertson “deteriorated in September 2020 due to an argument over borrowed property”.

The family were asleep on the night of the incident when Robertson turned up.

Prosecutor Greg Farrell said: “Robertson poured petrol onto the front door of the property, ignited it, causing a fire to take hold, then ran off.”

Mrs Hendry was suddenly awoken at 3am as a smoke alarm sounded.

The stunned mum then saw a “bright orange glow” coming from downstairs, before shouting: “Brian, the house is on fire.”

Mr Hendry raced to try and extinguish the blaze, which had spread through the property but was unsuccessful.

He was able to open the front door and the trio were able to make their way out to the street.

Mr Farrell added: “From the roadway, all three saw the fire to be burning the porch area and moving up the side of the house as it grew rapidly.”

Fire crews attended and were fortunately able to put out the blaze.

There was extensive smoke damage to all rooms with the front door and hallway also badly affected.

It was concluded what happened was deliberate and that an accelerant had been used.

Mr Farrell said: “Brian told the fire officer that ‘someone had tried to murder him’ however he did not expand.”

Police later traced Robertson to a friend’s home and he was arrested.

Louise Arrol, defending, told the court: “There was obviously a background and an escalation.”

Robertson was remanded in custody by judge Lady Stacey and he will be sentenced next month.

After the hearing, Mr Hendry told how matters escalated after he was asked by Robertson to return boxing gloves from a gym that he had loaned to his son.

Mr Hendry stated that he was never given boxing gloves and was asked by Robertson for £25.

Recalling that night, Mr Hendry said: “As soon as I got in the hall, I could smell petrol and I knew it was on my door – I knew it was him – I didn’t have a problem with anybody else.

“It just came out of the boxing glove situation.

“It was a harrowing experience for me when I first saw the house was on fire. My first thoughts were panic.

“He had been texting me he was going to set my house on fire and murder me.

“Three weeks later he set the house on fire.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code