Friends’ fallout over boxing gloves led to house being set on fire in attempted murder

By Connor Gordon

A murderous bid thug torched the family home of a former friend during a dispute over boxing gloves.

Stephen Robertson, 50, started the blaze at the house Brian Hendry shared with his wife Nicola and deaf son Ethan.

A judge watched horror CCTV footage of the fire ripping through the property in Renfrew on May 23 last year as the family slept.

The trio luckily managed to escape the inferno in Western Park Gate that wrecked the house leaving a £140,000 repair bill.

Robertson pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow for the attempted murder of Brian, 48, Nicola, 48, and Ethan, 21, by wilful fire raising.

He also admitted a separate charge of breaching his bail conditions.

He will be sentenced next month.

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The court heard the family’s seven-year friendship with Robertson “deteriorated in September 2020 due to an argument over borrowed property.”

The family were asleep on the night of the incident when Robertson turned up.

Prosecutor Greg Farrell said: “Robertson poured petrol onto the front door of the property, ignited it, causing a fire to take hold, then ran off.”

Nicola was suddenly awoken at 3am as a smoke alarm sounded.

The stunned mum then saw a “bright orange glow” coming from downstairs before shouting: “Brian, the house is on fire.”

Brian raced to try and extinguish the blaze which had spread through the property but was unsuccessful.

He was able to open the front door and the trio were able to make their way out to the street.

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Mr Farrell added: “From the road way, all three saw the fire to be burning the porch area and moving up the side of the house as it grew rapidly.”

Fire crews raced to the house and were fortunately able to put out the blaze.

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There was extensive smoke damage to all rooms with the front door and hallway also badly affected.

It was concluded what happened was deliberate and that an accelerator had been used.

Mr Farrell said: “Brian told the Fire Officer that ‘someone had tried to murder him’ however he did not expand.”

Police later traced Robertson to a friend’s home and he was arrested.

Louise Arrol, defending, told the court: “There was obviously a background and an escalation.”

Robertson was remanded in custody by judge Lady Stacey, who deferred sentencing for reports.

After the hearing, Brian told how he had borrowed boxing gloves from Robertson to be used during lockdown with gyms being closed.

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The dad said they were later returned, but Robertson believed he should have been paid £25 for them.

Recalling that night, Brian went on: “As soon as I got in the hall, I could smell petrol and I knew it was on my door – I knew it was him – I didn’t have a problem with anybody else.

“It just came out of the boxing glove situation.

“It was a harrowing experience for me when I first saw the house was on fire, my first thoughts were panicked.

“He had been texting me he was going to set my house on fire and murder me.

“Three weeks later he set the house on fire.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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