Noisy neighbours were fire-bombed

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The Independent Online
A British Telecom engineer was jailed for life at the Old Bailey yesterday with a recommendation that he serve a minimum 22 years for firebombing noisy neighbours, causing the death of a young mother.

Peter Thurston, 34, a father-of-two of Leyton, east London, was convicted of murder, arson and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

The court had been told how he had hurled a petrol bomb into the flat four floors above his own where a pay party was being held in July last year. He was obsessed with noise and planned to silence the sound system.

Thurston had appeared at the front door dressed in a way "deliberately designed to terrify" as a terrorist in dark clothes and a face mask with slits for his eyes. Brandishing an imitation machine gun, he kicked a petrol bomb into the hall and shouted "this is for you", John Bevan, for the prosecution, told the court.

In the ensuing panic among the 50 or so party-goers smashed windows as they struggled for air. Donna O'Dwyer, 26, the mother of a young son, climbed out of the window and lost her grip on the ledge. She fell 13 floors to her death.

There had been numerous complaints about noise in the block and Judge Michael Coombe yesterday said the flat was being used as a commercial enterprise "making money out of pay parties which had no doubt disturbed the entire estate". He said the authorities which had received them must bear a moral responsibility for not acting.

"This does not forgive the offence or provide an excuse for what Thurston did," he said. "Nevertheless, he was not the only person who found these parties late at night intolerable and the responsible authorities did nothing about them." He asked for the prosecution to pass his remarks to those concerned.