AN ARSONIST who set fire to a house trapping a woman and three children could have condemned them to a 'horribly painful death'.

Terence Havens had pleaded guilty to reckless arson and criminal damage and at Burnley Crown Court, the Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham handed the 37-year-old an extended prison sentence.

The court heard how on July 16, a drunk Havens had taken a petrol can from the yard of a house in Bath Street, Colne, and doused himself in petrol before pouring fuel over items in the kitchen and living room, blocking the only exit.

Minutes later the house went up in flames, leaving a woman and three children inside.

Prosecuting, Mark Stephenson said witnesses described seeing a man "calmly leaving the property, with blood on his arms and hands, smelling of petrol and looking intoxicated".

The court heard how the woman locked herself in a bedroom, using a towel at the bottom of the door to block the smoke from coming in and tried to get the children out of the bedroom window.

Mr Stephenson told the court that only the youngest child was able to be helped to safety through the window by a neighbour as the opening was too small for the others.

He said: "The woman then made the decision to open the door, grab the other two children and run through the living room, through the kitchen and jump over the fire to get to the rear door and out onto the street.

"The defendant was gone by this time, and the victim says if she hadn't taken the opportunity to run they all would have died in the fire."

The court was told how Havens had made his way to a friend's house and was later arrested around 11.30pm, telling police that he had set himself on fire.

Bodycam footage from the police officer showed Havens stating: "I will do every single one of you and I will do myself. I poured petrol all over myself and all over the house and set fire to it".

Havens accepted setting the fire but said he had not meant to hurt the people inside.

Havens, who has 14 convictions for 23 offences - the last one 'of significance' dating back to 2008 - was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder, with Judge Altham telling the court he considered the defendant to be a 'dangerous offender'.

Jailing Havens, of Skipton Road, Colne, for five years and four months, with three years on extended licence, he said: "The damage to the property was extensive, the plaster was burnt off the brick walls.

"The pictures in the fire report show scenes of complete devastation.

"This was an extremely dangerous situation. He started a fire at the only exit and trapped and adult and three children inside.

"They could easily have all died a horribly painful death.

"I know he expresses remorse and pleaded guilty to a specific offence, but I can't agree with the pre-sentence report that says this would not happen again, as if in drink he could again act in this way, so I am personally satisfied that this defendant is a dangerous offender."