Man set fire to woman’s house because ‘it was being tormented by witches’

A man burnt down a woman's house because he believed witches lived there.

Stuart Hughes, 41, poured petrol through the letterbox of Zara Groves' residence in Llandudno, North Wales, home before setting it alight.

Hughes, of Ffordd Gwynedd, explained he thought the witches were tormenting him when he admitted a charge of arson.

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Groves looked on in horror as her home burned down in March 2022, leaving her homeless, NorthWalesLive reports.

Caernarfon Crown Court imposed an indefinite hospital order on Hughes, who the court heard suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Sion ap Mihangel, prosecuting, said Ms Groves had been packing for a weekend trip on March 24 at about 10pm when she heard a bang at her front door.

She then saw smoke and flames which went on to "melt" the door to her property.

Thankfully, the health and fitness coach managed to escaped unharmed before calling the fire service who found petrol had been doused at the scene.

Hughes was arrested the following day with police finding an empty five-litre jerry can in his shed.

He initially denied his involvement with the crime but later admitted responsibility while claiming that that two women living there had “subjected him to witchcraft” for almost a decade.

He claimed that burning the property was his way of trying to “get rid of the evil”.

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Groves, appearing via a video link, told the court that the incident was “the worst, scariest time of [my] life”.

She said the attack has cost her thousands of pounds and while she was appalled to imagine what might have happened had other people been in the house that night and been unable to escape.

She also told the judge she is now a "shell" of the person she was.

Maria Masellis, defending, said medical professionals had determined that Hughes' schizophrenia was “severe” and argued a return to custody would most likely result in a relapse.

The judge, Nicola Saffman said an indefinite hospital and restriction order would be placed on Hughes.

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