A homeless man bearing a grudge was today found guilty of murdering his lover and her friend when he torched a cottage as they slept.

Rough sleeper James Cox, 63, deliberately started the blaze after fellow squatter Howard Blake turned up at the house, where Cox was staying with his girlfriend Sian Sanchez, and forced him out.

A jury of five women and seven men took five hours to unanimously convict Cox of murdering Mrs Sanchez, 36, and Mr Blake, 51, at Redbridge Cottage, Old Abingdon Road, Oxford, on January 2, 2007.

Their bodies were found in an upstairs room by firefighters. They died of smoke inhalation.

Cox, who denied murder, stared straight ahead as the verdicts were read out while members of Mrs Sanchez's family wept in the public gallery.

Judge Anthony King adjourned sentencing for psychiatric reports, but warned Cox he would get a life sentence.

Oxford Crown Court heard Cox, of no fixed address, had sex with Mrs Sanchez earlier that night but was angry after Blake turned up at the derelict property and threw him out.

Five days earlier, Cox - who refused to take the stand during the trial - had told paramedics he would "get his own back" on the pair after accusing them of attacking him.

The three-week trial heard that after forcing his way into the house at about 12.30am, Blake punched Cox in the face and threw a microwave at him.

Cox then made a hoax 999 call to police telling them Mrs Sanchez was being raped in the house by Mr Blake.

Officers attended but were sent away by the couple.

Cox dialled 999 again but police traced the call and spoke to Cox, who was described by officers as "clearly affected by drink".

Fire investigator Peter Graham, of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service - one of 47 witnesses to give evidence - told the court the blaze was lit between 3am and 4.30am at the base of the stairs.

Cox was caught on CCTV cameras nearby on several occasions around the time of the fire.

No-one realised there were people in the building until Cox, arrested at the scene, told firefighters there was someone inside who "meant the world" to him.

Speaking after the case, Det Supt Rob Mason welcomed the verdicts, saying: "This is a tragic case where a selfish and senseless act took the lives of two people. I'm glad justice has now finally been done."

Cox will be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Friday, June 20.

Mother-of- eight Sian Sanchez, 36, was born in Oxford, but moved to the United States at 14.

She married a serviceman and worked in nursing homes before suffering a brain aneurysm at 21. She survived, but the illness reduced her mental age and she never fully recovered.

She split up from her husband and lived rough for a time, losing her children to social services or private adoption. She was deported to England and ended up living rough.

Her sister, Jackie Carter, said: "Sian had such a bubbly personality. She was free spirited and was strong willed. The family were devastated by the events that have taken place and have come together for the trial.

"We feel justice has been served for Sian and Howard today."

Former window cleaner and painter and decorator Howard Blake, 51, was born in Norwich but his family originated from Dublin.

He leaves a son, Anthony, 13, who lives with his mother, Elizabeth, in Ireland.