AN ARSONIST has been jailed after setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s car in Chipping Norton.

Gary Smith, 34, of Cotswold Crescent, Chipping Norton, was sentenced to four years and nine months’ imprisonment Friday (April 19) at Oxford Crown Court after being found guilty by a jury of one count each of arson and harassment.

He previously pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage at the same court.

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During the trial, the jury heard that on August 26, 2021, the victim, Sally Dodman-Edwards, ended a relationship with Smith.

The pair met on a dating app and had a short relationship between April and August 2021.

After giving him a lift back home, he damaged her Audi by smashing the windows and damaging the tyres. 

Smith then left but returned later that same night and the Audi on fire and sent her a video of this with a threat making her think that her house was next.

Following this incident, until December 6 2021, Smith bombarded Ms Dodman-Edwards with threatening, abusive and harassing messages after he disappeared out of county to avoid arrest.

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In one voicemail, he could be heard saying: “Let me be very f****** clear, right, you’re making serious allegations against me for reasons I don’t know.

“You’re a f***** liar. You were sectioned because you’re a f****** mental patient. Stop with the b*******. There are very serious allegations.”

He was later located and was arrested on December 22 the same year.

Following the charge, Smith failed to appear at court and a warrant was issued.

He was subsequently re-arrested on July 14 2022 and remanded to court.

During the trial, Ms Dodman-Edwards said: “It had a massive impact on my wellbeing. I did not feel secure in my own home, I was worried for my children.

“The effects it’s had on me and my family…I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through.”

Investigating officer PC Charlie Hayes said: “I would like to commend the victim on her ability to keep a cool head in the face of such unwanted abuse while the police were trying to locate Smith.

“I would also like to thank our colleagues at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service for safely extinguishing the fire ignited by Smith.

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“I am pleased the jury found Smith guilty of offences of arson and harassment, after he admitted to criminal damage.

“I hope this sentencing sends a robust message to those who may consider such abhorrent behaviour.

“Thames Valley Police is relentless in its pursuit and disruption of perpetrators of violence against women and girls.”