Rape victim's ex-partner petrol-bombed her home

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The Independent Online
The rape victim who endured six days of questioning in court from the man who attacked her was petrol-bombed at her home two months after the assault.

Paul Cunningham carried out the arson as his former girlfriend, Julia Mason, watched television with her current boy- friend, Billy Power, at their south London home. He claimed they had orchestrated a vendetta against him.

Yesterday, Mr Cunningham was jailed at the Old Bailey for five years after he pleaded guilty to arson. The hearing took place two courts away from where Ralston Edwards, 42, was convicted of raping Ms Mason, 34, a day earlier.

Ms Mason has waived her right to anonymity following her double rape to challenge the legal convention that allows a sex attacker to cross- examine their victim during a trial if they are defending themselves. The Home Office is to examine issues raised by her case.

Phillip Shorrock, for the prosecution, said that in February Ms Mason and Mr Power had heard a window smash at their semi-detached home moments before the living room was engulfed by flames.

Nine days later, Mr Cunningham, 20, of Bellingham, south London, went to police and admitted he had thrown a milk bottle containing petrol and burning newspaper through a window of the house which he thought was empty.

Mr Cunningham, who once shared a flat with Mr Powell, claimed the couple had "done their best to make his life a misery and that they and other members of the Power family had made false allegations to the police to the extent that he was arrested twice", said Mr Shorrock.

In mitigation, Adrian Fulford said detectives "accepted" that both the Power family and Ms Mason had been responsible for unfounded allegations against Mr Cunningham.