A convicted rapist who went on the run after setting fire to a woman’s home has been found guilty of arson.
Mold Crown Court heard Richard Pentraeth had tried to seek revenge on a witness who had given evidence against him in an earlier trial, only to find he had got the wrong address.
The 64 year-old from Cheltenham had admitted reckless arson but denied intending to endanger life.
Prosecutors said Pentraeth travelled to North Wales after he heard the address of a rape victim during proceedings at Woolwich Crown Court. They alleged he had tried to track her down for years both at home and abroad and had threatened to kill her if she revealed what had happened.
When he reached the house, he poured an accelerant through the letterbox and lit a piece of wood. The mother was woken up by the sound, walked downstairs and came face to face with Pentraeth, who walked away after picking up the piece of wood. The accelerant had caused damage to the door.
Police later found a paraffin bottle with Pentraeth’s DNA and discovered he had sent a threatening message on Facebook before the attack. He told officers he only wanted to scare the woman into telling the truth, rather than rape or kill her.
Giving evidence, Pentraeth denied starting the fire to cause further harm and visiting the house beforehand to plan the arson attack. He told the court that when he realised he had the wrong address: ”It was the wrong lady. Don’t rely on Google maps.”
The defence claimed his trips abroad had been innocent because of his work as a professional chess player at tournaments, where he would also sell books on the sport. They argued the jury could not be sure about whether or not he intended to hurt her.
Pentraeth was remanded in custody until sentencing for rape, indecent assault and arson at Manchester Crown Court next Tuesday. Judge Nic Parry said the judge at the earlier trial would conduct proceedings and a psychiatric report was ordered.
Source: Daily Post