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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Dog barking 'led to arson attack'
A row over barking dogs motivated an 82-year-old Devon woman to set fire to her neighbour's home, a court heard.

Elizabeth Sterland allegedly pushed firelighters and paper through her neighbour Jennifer Ebsworth's letterbox after she had gone away on holiday.

Mrs Ebsworth had complained to Mrs Sterland about the noise her dogs were making at Kingston, near Kingsbridge.

Mrs Sterland denies the arson attack which caused fire damage to Mrs Ebsworth's front door and carpet.

'Polite letter'

Plymouth Crown Court heard that Mrs Ebsworth had written to Mrs Sterland complaining about the noise her dogs had been making.

She said: "I had a problem with Mrs Sterland's dogs because they were barking and she denied they were barking.

"I wrote her a very polite and diplomatic letter about two weeks before I went on holiday asking her to keep the dogs quiet."

The court heard that Mrs Ebsworth's son Simon discovered the damage when he went round to cut her lawn in August last year.

He found fire damage at the door and burnt paper inside that had been pushed through the letterbox.

The court was told that Mrs Sterland had been seen by a passer-by at the property putting paper through the letterbox and setting light to it.

Nick Lewin, prosecuting, said: "It is extremely rare to have a lady in her 80s in crown court, but it is clear that people, however old they are, cannot set fire to their neighbour's house."

The case continues.

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