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Canterbury mum Pearl D'Souza jailed for attempted murder after Keats Corner house fire

By Paul Hooper

A Canterbury mum-of-six who callously tried to blow up her home as an act of revenge at being dumped by a boyfriend was today jailed for 18 years.

Spurned lover Pearl D’Souza, 38, piled papers and then pulled a gas tube out from her cooker after dismantling a fire alarm.

Any explosion would have killed not only herself but others who were nearby, a court heard.

Pearl D'Souza has been jailed

Fortunately she had not allowed enough time for the lethal gas to build up – and the shock of the flame scared her.

But today Judge James O’Mahony told her that what she did was “wicked an utterly selfish” and could have resulted in the murder of innocent victims.

He said she had also endangered residents living near her home in Keats Corner, Canterbury, as well as the fire services who had to break in and put out the fire.

Fire crews were called to the home in Canterbury

D’Souza, who admitted reckless arson and three charges of attempted murder, sat impassively as the judge said she still posed a danger to any future partners.

Last week, she had sat with her head bowed in the dock at Canterbury Crown Court as prosecutor Martin Yale outlined how she had expected a huge explosion.

She and one other person were singed in the incident in April last year which happened after a bust-up with a lover.

D’Souza, who was raised in India, later claimed she wanted revenge after the partner had told her their relationship was over.

Pearl D'Souza - also known as Pearl Thomas - was jailed for attempted murder after a Canterbury house fire

Mr Yale said: "The relationship had broken down and she was upset about the relationship ending and was desperate for it to continue."

He said in a meeting between the two she became abusive telling him that he would regret ending the relationship.

Mr Yale said that the night before the incident she repeatedly called her ex-lover telling him “if they couldn’t be together then there’s no point”.

"D'Souza was crying hysterically. She then crumpled onto the floor saying: ‘What have I done?’" - Prosecutor Martin Yale

D’Souza had gone to a neighbour’s home and later telephoned her friend telling her she couldn’t cope without her lover.

“Just before 3.30 pm, the neighbour sent D’Souza another text asking if she was alright.

“Shortly afterwards the neighbour began to smell gas and heard an alarm sounding. The neighbour then went into her home to ensure her children were alright.

“She then heard a loud knock on the door and saw D’Souza who was shouting there was a fire and that the house was going to blow up.

“There was smoke coming out of D’Souza’s front door. The neighbour then called the emergency services and D’Souza was crying hysterically. She then crumpled onto the floor saying: ‘What have I done?’, “the prosecutor said.

The judge heard how D’Souza then told her neighbour how she had pulled out the gas pipe and had tried to kill herself.

Mr Yale added: “As she intended to kill herself then she also intended to kill others.”

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

Fire fighters arrived at 3.30pm and after forcing their way in they put out a fire in a kitchen and opened the window to ventilate the room.

“The damage to the kitchen was limited but it had clearly been very hot and the carbon monoxide protector above the hob had melted.

“One of the firefighters spoke to D’Souza, who had a singed arm and hair, who told her she had done it but couldn’t go through with it.

"It was only her lack of knowledge about the levels of gas required to cause an explosion that prevented fatalities..." - DI Janine Farrell

“She later told an ambulance technician that she had had an argument with a partner and had tried to set the house alight by removing the gas pipe. She saw a flame, freaked out and left," he added.

Two psychiatrists had concluded that D’Souza had not been suffering from any mental illness.

Police had asked her why she did it and she told them it was a “revenge thing” because her partner had ignored her pleas to stay with her.

Daniel Pawson-Pound, in making a plea for mercy, said: “This was is a tragic and unusual case.”

The judge passed a 22 year sentence, of which 18 years is the custodial sentence and she will have to serve an extra four years on licence when she is released.

After the sentencing, Detective Inspector Richard Vickery told KentOnline: "It was a pre-determined, deliberate and selfish act. It could have ended up in multiple fatalities.

"The judge has rightly identified her as a dangerous individual.

"She's a many-faceted lady who has different personas depending on what situation she's in.

"In simple terms, she's unpredictable. The judge is right to determine that she poses a risk for the future."

Detective Inspector Janine Farrell added: "Pearl D'Souza has been convicted of three attempted murders, but who can be sure of how many other potential victims were also put at risk by her deliberate and selfish actions.

"There is no doubt she intended to kill herself and the other occupants of the house that day when she ignited the gas with her lighter.

"It was only her lack of knowledge about the levels of gas required to cause an explosion that prevented fatalities in the house and in the neighbouring vicinity.

"My thoughts are with all her victims and everyone else adversely affected by this incident. I hope the sentence will go some way towards reassuring them that justice has been served."

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