Thug Frank Barton set fire to pregnant girlfriend's Rochester flat after Down's syndrome baby row
by Keith Hunt
A drunken thug who set fire to his pregnant girlfriend's flat
door after she ended the relationship has been jailed for
Frank Barton denied arson being reckless as to whether life was
endangered, but was convicted by a jury.
Maidstone Crown Court heard Barton had on the day of the offence
been with Amanda Ward to Medway Maritime Hospital, where she had a
scan and was told it was possible the baby could have Down's
The child turned out to be perfectly healthy.
Miss Ward said Barton, 33, was shocked she was pregnant. She
decided to split from him, she said, because he drank too much and
"He didn't believe me," she said. "He wouldn't take no for an
answer. He was adamant I didn't want to end the relationship."
The couple were living in separate flats, owned
"When we went home he said he wanted me to get rid of it because he couldn't be seen with a Down's syndrome baby..." – arson victim Amanda Ward
association MHS Homes, at Margaret House in John Street,
Miss Ward said of Barton's reaction after the scan on April 13:
"He didn't say much. When we went home he said he wanted me to get
rid of it because he couldn't be seen with a Down's syndrome
"I thought it was horrible. He didn't give it a chance to see if
That evening Barton went to neighbour John Chater's flat. He
later went to Miss Ward's flat "absolutely drunk". She went to her
father's home on the Isle of Grain.
"I was there when I got a call about a fire at my flat," she
Mr Chater's girlfriend Lisa Bowden said they were watching
television on the first floor when she heard the sound of Miss
Ward's letterbox being "flicked" on the floor above.
"Then I heard a fire alarm," she said. "Someone buzzed and said
there was a fire. John filled up a bowl of water. I filled up a
dish. We went to the flat and threw it at the door.
"After that the fire brigade turned up. The letterbox was
stuffed with rubbish and black sacks."
The cost of the damage to the door was £461.
Frank Barton went
for a baby scan with his girlfriend at Medway Maritime
Hospital in Gillingham
Judge Jeremy Carey said Barton had been convicted on
overwhelming evidence. It was fortunate, he said, that others in
the flats were not harmed.
"You have a bad record of aggressive behaviour to partners," he
added. "There is no mitigation."
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