A father of two and ex-Royal Marine had to evacuate his sleeping family from their home after thugs allegedly set fire to their car and caravan, which then spread to their house.
The 38-year-old’s home caught fire early on Thursday morning (March 18), a day after he took to social media to criticize the antisocial behaviour in Wingate, County Durham.
Speaking to ChronicleLive, Sean said: "I shouted at my wife to get out of bed and take the kids out the house.
"Then I just ran out and grabbed the hose pipe to suppress the fire. I was trying to do anything to put it out.”
Sean, his wife Kate, and their children aged seven and five were able to get to safety, but then had to watch as their home burned down.
"It's absolutely devastating because I live in a lovely street surrounded by wonderful neighbours who aren't just neighbours they're close friends”, Sean added.
"My whole property's been set on fire and we've got nothing.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking.”
Now a teacher, 38-year-old Sean spent 15 years serving in the Royal Marines, and has lived in Wingate his whole life.
To make matters worse, because of a brain injury he had suffered years ago, Sean said he had forgotten to renew the house insurance, leaving him thousands of pounds out of pocket.
On Wednesday, before the attack, Sean had taken to social media to complain about antisocial behaviour, claiming that four men had burst into his parents’ home and robbed them.
He wrote: "I don't know how and I do not know what we can do but I think it's time that the people, the good people of our communities, got together and come up with some ideas to hopefully get rid of these thugs and clean up our streets.”
He spoke as well of an increase in antisocial behaviour in the area, saying: "I can see the demise of the community and the confidence that people once had thinking it was safe to go out isn't there anymore.
"It's not fair that my family are put at risk."
Sean believes that he and his family were targeted because of his comments online.
He said: "To be targeted like this, all because I've spoken out against anti-social behaviour that's becoming far more prevalent in the communities.
"It was after an incident on Saturday. I haven't named anyone or spoken about any individuals or groups, and yet this happens.”
An online fundraiser has been set up to support the family, and raised more £12,000 in 24 hours after hundreds of people donated.
A 22-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson.
Neighbourhood Inspector Emma Kay, of Durham Constabulary, said: “Thankfully no-one was injured in this incident, but the fire caused significant damage.
“We are urging those living in the community to come forward with any information they may have.
“I would like to reassure residents that extra officers will be patrolling the area and I would urge anyone who sees them to speak to them.”
Anyone with relevant information should call 101 or contact crime stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting Durham Constabulary incident 23 of March 18.
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