Man threatened to torch mum’s home over £250 cash row with cousin

A man threatened to torch his mum’s home in a terrifying video call in which he held up a lighter and warned: “This is what will happen to your home”.

Fuming Alex Carman, 23, spoke the chilling words to stunned Julie Mechin as he placed the cigarette ignitor in view of his mobile phone’s camera.

He also warned she and family members “will die”, prosecutor James Long told magistrates in South Tyneside.

Carman issued the threats while at Mrs Mechin’s Houghton-le-Spring home – and moments later, he smashed a drainpipe and her staircase in a booze-fuelled rage.

Jobless Carman struck after she failed to take his side over a cash dispute with his cousin who he had loaned £250.

Fearing he would not get the money back Carman, of Loweswater Avenue, Houghton-le-Spring, asked her for a £20 loan on Wednesday, January 27.

When she refused, he went to the pub before he then ransacked her home while she was at his grandmother’s home.

Prosecutor James Long said: “It’s a straightforward criminal damage of her banister, where ten spindles are broken.

“There was also damage to the down-corner drain pipe outside.

“The victim, Julie Mechin, is the defendant’s mother. She says that the defendant often stays at her home.

“When she was staying at her mother’s house, she received a telephone call from him asking for £20.

“She tells him that she didn’t have any money, and he says she and family members will die.

“He video-called her later and held a lighter and said, ‘This is what will happen to your home.’

“His mother believes the defendant has a drugs problem and wants him to get some help.”

Mr Long said Mrs Mechin later received a call from a neighbour alerting her to Carman’s vandal antics and found the damage on her return.

The court heard Carman has two previous convictions, the last at York Crown Court in February 2019 for theft for which he was fined £100.

Paul McAlindon, defending, said: “He tells me that his mother has been quite supportive.

“On the evening in question, he had a disagreement with a family member, a cousin. His mother tried to ask him not to pursue it.

“He had had a drink and taken some non-prescription medication, some sleeping tablets, and in anger he’s caused this damage.

“He’s a young man who doesn’t usually trouble the courts. It seems that he and his mother are now getting on.”

Carman, who pleaded guilty to destroying property with intent to endanger life, was ordered to pay Mrs Mechin £150 compensation, and was fined £40.

Magistrates also imposed a 12-month community order, with a requirement of 20 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service.

There were no court costs or victim surcharge.

Chronicle Live – Sunderland