A DOG owner poured petrol through a neighbour's letterbox and set it on fire after objecting to his pet being stroked.

The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh told Dean Cracknell that his actions could have been "catastrophic" for residents in the three storey block of flats.

Cracknell, who appeared for sentencing at Bolton Crown Court via a video link from prison, was jailed for five years and three months.

The court heard how Cracknell's neighbour, Paul Worden, was visited by two friends in the early hours of May 9.

In the communal area of the flats at Southern House, Peterhead Close, Halliwell, Kevin Cowan and Nicola Unsworth were met by Cracknell, who had two dogs with him.

Alexandra Sutton, prosecuting, said: "Mr Cowan stroked one of the dogs which upset the defendant.

"The defendant then hit Mr Cowan to the back of the head as he was walking into Mr Worden's flat."

Cracknell and Worden then got into a fight with them headbutting each other before Cracknell, who was drunk, was forced out of the top floor flat.

Cracknell returned five minutes later, banging on Mr Worden's door, smashing a communal landing window and making threats to kill them.

Miss Sutton added: "He then began screaming that he was pouring petrol through the door and the black nozzle of a petrol can appeared through the letter box with petrol pouring onto the carpet. The door was then set alight.

"The men tried to douse the flames with water but were not able to to extinguish the fire."

The flames spread to the carpet but, fortunately, police who arrived on the scene shortly before the fire service, were able to put out the blaze.

Cracknell, who was stood outside his own flat, was arrested, initially denying having started the fire.

"He smelled strongly of petrol and his eyebrows and stubble were singed. Police observed a petrol can on the floor," said Miss Sutton.

Damage to the property amounted to almost £1,500.

Cracknell, aged 29, pleaded guilty to reckless arson and criminal damage.

Steven Swift, defending, told the court that Cracknell, who has been diagnosed with a emotionally unstable personality disorder, was attempting to rid himself of a drug addiction but kept being offered them by his neighbour.

"The defendant was really at the end of his tether and it was an impulsive reaction," he said.

"He was struggling with his own addiction at a time of difficult mental health."

Sentencing Cracknell, Judge Walsh told him: "Fortunately the fire was extinguished relatively early by the police but the consequences of what happened here could have been catastrophic.

"It was a block of flats occupied by a relatively large number of people.

"You knew that the flat was occupied because you have been involved in an altercation with the occupant moments before the fire was set and therefore you knew the very great risk that was being caused to the occupant of that flat, but also must have appreciated the significant risk to the occupants of other flats in the block."