Woman fears fireraising husband could be freed

Angela Donaldson, who is now divorcing her husband John,  after her house was torched. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Angela Donaldson, who is now divorcing her husband John, after her house was torched. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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THE wife of a convicted ­fireraiser who destroyed the family home “in a fit of spite” says she is terrified he will be free within weeks.

Angela Donaldson was left homeless after husband John, 44, started a fire at their house in Tranent earlier this year.

The blaze engulfed the property – killing Angela’s pet cockatiels Bob and Mary – with adjoining homes evacuated.

But Donaldson could be out walking the streets within weeks after he was sentenced to just 13 months – minus time already served – at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday.

The horrified mum-of-three, who has since filed for a divorce, says she is “appalled and shocked” by the sentence.

“It makes me sick to think he could be walking around the same streets as me in a matter of weeks. I’m 100 per cent sure he could do it again,” said Angela, 42, who wasn’t insured.

“I have a life sentence, I’ve lost everything yet he’s as good as got away with it. It makes no sense. I’m certain that fire was for me – he did it out of spite to destroy everything I own. There are things I can never replace.”

Unemployed Angela – who fears she’s lost thousands – added: “I’m shocked, disgusted and appalled at the justice system. It’s all skewed towards the person in the dock, there’s absolutely nothing for the ­victim.”

The couple had known each other from school but had both been married previously when they tied the knot in October last year – against the wishes of Angela’s children. Following the wedding, Angela says her once-loving partner changed overnight from being “funny and popular” to jealous and controlling.

He would often hide the house keys or time her when she went out. “He changed overnight and wasn’t the same person. He would hide my keys, my purse and the phone we shared and didn’t like me going out,” she said. “He would time me when I did go out and because I was late coming back one day, he took an overdose. He was a total control freak.

“I couldn’t leave him alone because I didn’t know what he would do. I was worried he was bipolar but now I think he was more of an attention-seeker who wanted to stand out and be different. He wasn’t so much mad as bad.

“It was a game of what to do next. He was just wanting total control and didn’t want to let me out of his sight.”

They had been married just seven months when he started the blaze in the living room of the house at Coalgate Avenue in May. Angela feared for his state of mind prior to the inferno after he said he knew “how to torch a house”.

She said: “He was really aggressive and I was scared of him. I didn’t know what to do with him. He locked me out of the house, so I stayed at a friend’s. Then my daughter rang quite late and said, ‘Mum, your house is on fire’. I instantly knew it was John, I thought this is his way of getting back at me.”

She rushed to their housing-association-provided home but could not get near because of a cordon. Neighbours tried to rescue Donaldson as the flames engulfed the property before he eventually jumped from an upstairs window, breaking his ankle and suffering burns. At his week-long trial last month he was found guilty of fire-raising.

“Only John will know how he did it and why,” she said.

“The trial was the first time I had seen him since and I never want to see him again.”