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Woman's Townhill Park home targeted in arson attack over £15 debt
IT started with an argument over a £15 debt.
But what began as a minor spat escalated into a what is being investigated by police as a suspected campaign of harassment culminating in a terrifying arson attack.
She spoke to the Daily Echo just hours after police launched an urgent appeal for witnesses to come forward following the attack at her ground-floor home in Vanguard Road.
Laura, 21, was watching television at the flat she shares with her 24-year-old brother Jamie, and her partner Sarah Shapey shortly before midnight on Saturday when Sarah spotted flames outside the front door.
Laura, who is unemployed, said: “We jumped up and went to the door and all we saw was orange and we thought, ‘We’ve just got to get the hell out of here’.
“We scrambled out of the window, but on the way my foot got stuck and I fell on my face on the floor.”
Police believe someone had set a suitcase on fire and dumped it outside the front door of her home.
Flames from the burning suitcase climbed to 6ft in height, just inches below a gas pipe above the doorway serving several flats in the block.
The fire had died down by the time fire crews arrived and it caused scorch marks to the front door.
Laura thinks the blaze is linked to a series of threatening calls she received after getting into an argument with a girl over a £15 debt.
Since then she received five sinister calls on Friday and Saturday where someone told her “I’m going to kill you” when she answered.
She also received a message on a social networking site saying: “I’ve come for you yesterday, I’ll come for you today”.
Her partner Sarah, 23, said: “I’ve never seen anything like it.
“If we were in bed we would not have noticed it and it would have been disastrous.”
“We are really worried about her.”
Laura’s brother Jamie said: “I just hope they catch the person who has done this.
“There’s children living round here and if the gas pipe went up it doesn’t bear thinking about.
“I’m worried it might happen again.”
Police are now appealing for any information that could help with the investigation.
They confirmed that they had been investigating the earlier reports by Laura that she had been receiving abusive and threatening phone calls and messages including a threat to kill her.
“If you know anything about this fire, or if you were in the area and saw anything suspicious, please contact Bitterne CID on 101 and ask to speak to me,” DC Tom Hewitt said.
He said detectives want to trace a silver Corsa with a dark blue side panels and bonnet seen in the area.
A 23-year-old woman and three women aged 18 from Southampton have been arrested and bailed until November 29 pending further enquiries.
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