A jilted teenager set fire to his ex-girlfriend's rabbit hutch and burned part of her family home after she refused to take him back, a court has heard.

Ethan Andrews conducted the revenge attack when Lauren Reynolds, 18, ended their relationship.

He poured petrol over Reynolds' rabbit hutch and set it on fire after making threats against her and her pets, the blaze then swept over the back of the property and gutted their living room.

Reynolds, from Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, told St Albans Crown Court that before the incident Andrews became increasingly controlling.

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She said: "He was being really paranoid and trying to tell me who I could and couldn't speak to.

"After I dumped him, he sent some really nasty texts saying, 'It's only over when I say it's over' and 'I can't wait for you to die'."

On July 16 last year, Andrews drove to Miss Reynolds' home where her family, as well as their nine pets, were sleeping.

The arsonist then set fire to the hutch, which the court heard he knew contained their much-loved pet Spice, leading to the house being evacuated.

Miss Reynolds, who has had to give up her course in animal management due to the stress of the incident, said: "All I cared about were my animals that were stuck inside, it was horrible.

"I was wailing and crying uncontrollably and my dad went back into the fire, we were screaming at him not to as it was so dangerous but he came out about 30 seconds later - he'd managed to rescue my hedgehog Wrillo.

"It wasn't until my brother mentioned that he thought Ethan might be responsible that the penny dropped.

"Ethan tried to claim in court that he didn't realise Spice would be in his hutch, but, as my dad said, 'Where did he think Spice would be, on a night out?'

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"Thankfully, the judge didn't believe a word of it."

Andrews was arrested soon after the blaze when police found a can of petrol and a lighter in his car.

The arsonist admitted to reckless arson and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, he was handed a 32-month sentence - 13 in prison and 19 out on licence.

"I have dreadful guilt about what happened even though I know logically it's not my fault.

"My rabbit Spice was my best friend and Ethan knew that. He targeted my innocent bunny just to get back at me."

Det Con Colin Workman, from Hertfordshire Constabulary's Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit, said: "It was an act of pure callousness to target a rabbit in order to achieve this goal.

"I hope this sentence today allows the family to start putting these terrible events behind them."