A father burned himself alive on his ex-girlfriend’s doorstep just days before he was due to answer bail – after being arrested on suspicion of rape.
Mark Tennyson-Smith, 37, doused himself in petrol and set himself ablaze outside the house of his ex-lover Vanessa Crouch, 29.
The factory worker, who was arrested before Christmas, is understood to have been devastated by the rape allegation and a recent failed relationship.
Father-of-one Mark’s friends and family today said he had been increasingly troubled following his arrest.
His sister Nicola Tennyson-Smith, from Ramsgate, Kent, said: “He was lovely, loyal and cheeky. He loved his family and his friends.
“He used to come and see us often, phone regularly and pop down for a bite to eat. He loved his mum’s cakes so whenever she was cooking he’d come down.”
Mark’s close friend Chaska Iglesias, 33, from Canterbury, Kent, said: “We were really close. He would come and kip on the sofa. I’d talk to him nearly every day.
”My daughters loved him. We’d go fishing together. He was just lovely, full of banter – a big Millwall fan and a bit of a Jack-the-lad, but with a heart of gold.
“I love him with all my heart and can’t find the words to describe what has happened.
“He told me a few weeks ago ‘make the most of me while you can because I might not be around for very long’, but I never even imagined this could happen.”
Tragic Mark, of Herne Bay, Kent, had been due to answer bail last week but died in the blaze on Thursday January 10.
Lynn Crouch, 53, Vanessa’s mother, witnessed the death but declined to comment.
Kent Police spokesman Adam Westgarth said: “Officers were called by the fire service to Alma Road, Herne Bay, at 6.30pm on Thursday to an incident in where a man died as a result of a fire.
“We are treating the death as unexplained and are working with the fire service to establish the cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
Kent Fire Service spokesman Jo Harfleet said: “We were called at 6.32pm to reports of a car on fire in Alma Road, Herne Bay.
“Two fire engines were sent and crews tackled the blaze.
“There has been one confirmed fatality. The cause of the incident is being investigated by the police and our fire investigation team.”