A MAN who set fire to his ex-partner’s car had previously coughed and spat at police officers after telling them he had coronavirus, a court heard.

Stewart Axford, 31, waged a campaign of harassment against two of his former girlfriends before succeeding in starting a blaze which forced one of them to flee her house with her two young children.

Denise Fitzpatrick, prosecuting, described how on Sunday, March 15, 2020, two officers were called to the home of one of the women after Axford had turned up drunk.

He resisted arrest and told the officers he had coronavirus before coughing and spitting at them in the face.

Having pleaded guilty to assaulting two emergency workers, Axford, of Oak Avenue, Little Lever, was on bail when on Wednesday, October 28, officers were called to the house again after she received a number of threatening telephone calls.

While at the home officers heard him say: “No one is going home until you are dead you f***ing grass”.

Officers searched the area and found Axford a small distance from the address with the phone used to make the call.

On Sunday, November 8, Axford went to the home of another ex-partner who lived on Lupin Avenue in Farnworth, despite a restraining order being in place.

She was in the property with her two children, aged four and three, and Ms Fitzpatrick described how her car was parked in the front drive only a metre from the house.

At around 8.35pm, Axford was spotted on the road with a rucksack before he was seen trying to set the car on fire.

He succeeded and as he escaped was seen to change into a different top taken from his rucksack.

So intense were the flames, the woman had to climb out of her kitchen window with the two children.

In a victim impact statement, she described being “absolutely petrified” and said she had been forced to move into a women’s refuge with her children.

Ms Fitzgerald added that Axford had eight previous convictions for 14 offences including various domestic violence offences.

Colin Buckle, defending, said: “He (Axford) has lived a chaotic lifestyle, had problems with depression, suicide attempts, failed relationships and he is self-medicating with alcohol.

“He then makes horrendous and dangerous decisions.”

Jailing Axford for 56 months after he pleaded guilty to two charges of assaulting an emergency worker, arson, sending a malicious communication and breach of an order, Recorder Ciaran Rankin added: “You have become embroiled in a self-destructive cycle as a result of the abuse of alcohol and have a terrible record for domestic violence offences.”