A caring mother died after three teenagers pushed a specially-adapted firework through her letterbox as part of a campaign of bullying against her teenage son, a court has been told.
Ryan Croft, 18, Owen Hewitt, 18, and a 17-year-old man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – dropped the explosive through the door of Mary Fox, 59.
The trio had snapped the balancing stick off the rocket so it would ”skip around” when it hit the floor and let off a shower of sparks to cause the maximum damage, the court heard.
They used the firework on Bonfire Night last year to scare mother-of-nine Mary and her son Raum, 18, who they were bullying because of his acne, it was alleged.
The court heard that Hewitt’s father had bought him a ”collection” of firework including powerful ‘super missiles’ and ‘Terminators’ which they kept in a ruck sack.
The three youths dropped the incendiary through the door and were later spotted on CCTV – casually eating at a local takeaway, the jury was told.
Mary had been so scared about possible attacks she had barricaded her door and letterbox opening with boxes which caught fire when the firework hit the floor.
A huge blaze quickly ripped through the family home while Mary and Raum were upstairs unaware what had happened.
Mary managed to push Raum to safety from an upstairs window but she was trapped trying to save her beloved cats and died in the fire.
Croft, of Bodmin, has already pleaded guilty to unlawful killing and a second count of arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered.
Hewitt and the 17-year-old, both also from Bodmin, denied the same charges yesterday at Truro Crown Court.
Paul Dunkels QC, prosecuting, said the defendants carried out the attack as part of their campaign of bullying against Mary’s son.
He said: ”Raum, 17 at the time, had been bullied at school. He had bad acne on his face and used to dress differently to other children.
”Because of this, Mary used to follow him to and from school, walking several yards behind. Her intention was to make things easier for him, but the protection she sought to give him marked him out for more bullying.
”He was pushed, struck and verbally abused. This went on until he left school and carried on afterwards. Ryan Croft would shout abuse at him in the street and Mary Fox was also subjected to abuse.
”The two defendants knew that Raum Fox lived at the address they put the firework through, knowing they would be inside and intending to frighten them.
”The house was chosen because of who lived there. When they were told they just laughed and carried on their evening in complete disregard.
”They were in it together. It does not matter who did what, particularly. Each did some part. The consequence is that Mary Fox died and they are all jointly responsible for that.”