A HAMPSHIRE man with a history of violence towards women had the life sentence imposed on him for setting fire to his former wife's home reduced to six years at London's Criminal Appeal Court.

Mark Gordon Simmonds, a 37-year-old former care worker, pleaded guilty at Chichester Crown Court on May 3 last year to a charge of arson.

He was initially sent to a mental hospital under the terms of an indefinite hospital order. But a life sentence was substituted in place of the order on August 25 last year with a requirement that Simmonds serve a minimum of two years and five months in prison before becoming eligible for release on licence.

The life sentence would have meant that Simmonds, after release, would have remained on licence - subject to possible recall to prison - for the rest of his days.

On January 20 last year, Simmonds, formerly of Rudd Lane, Tinsbury, Romsey, received a letter from his estranged second wife informing him she had commenced divorce proceedings, Lord Justice Pill told the court.

He drove to the terraced house of his estranged wife in Crawley, West Sussex and set it alight, destroying the contents but not the building itself. He then telephoned the police to confess.