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‘Selfish and vindictive’ property developer, 37, burned down couple’s new £325,000 dream home

‘Selfish and vindictive’ property developer, 37, burned down couple’s new £325,000 dream home after failing to buy it from under them because they had pulled out of deals to buy two houses from him

  • Matthew Green set fire to property in Swaffham, Norfolk in a revenge attack 
  • Couple who purchased home had twice pulled out of buying houses from Green 
  • They lost their £32,500 deposit and backed out of purchase over safety fears

A ‘selfish and vindictive’ property developer burned down a couple’s new home in an act of spite just hours after they exchanged contracts to buy it, a court heard.   

Matthew Green, 37, carried out the revenge attack because the couple had pulled out of buying two separate properties from him due to delays and increasing costs. 

He decided to punish them in what police described as ‘a selfish and vindictive act’ after learning that they were buying a £325,000 cottage in Swaffham, Norfolk.  

Norwich Crown Court heard he first tried to disrupt the sale by approaching the owner and trying to buy the property himself on June 25, 2019. 

The owner turned him down and duly exchanged contracts with the couple the next day on June 26, taking a £32,500 deposit with the remainder due to be paid on completion.

Matthew Green (pictured) carried out the revenge attack because the couple had pulled out of buying two separate properties from him due to delays and increasing costs

Pictured: The aftermath of the fire at the home in Swaffham, Norfolk in June 2019

Pictured: The aftermath of the fire at the home in Swaffham, Norfolk in June 2019

Green later returned and set fire to the empty house, causing extensive damage to the kitchen, the court heard.

The blaze was spotted by the ‘rival’ couple, who had gone out for dinner with friends to celebrate exchanging contracts on June 27. 

They decided to stop by the house on the way home, but when they pulled onto the gravel driveway at around 5pm, they were horrified to see that the front of the house had been destroyed in a fire.  

The couple consequently lost their deposit and decided to back out of the purchase because they feared for their safety, the court heard.  

Green refused to comment on the case when he was approached today while renovating another house in Swaffham. 

Norfolk Police launched an investigation and quickly established that the fire had been started deliberately.

Detectives turned their attention to Green after discovering that he had ‘tried to buy the property at the last minute to annoy the buyers.’ 

Pictured: Damage to the front of the property in Swaffham after Green set fire to the home

Pictured: Damage to the front of the property in Swaffham after Green set fire to the home

Pictured: Damage to the property

Pictured: Damage to the property

The couple consequently lost their £32,500 deposit and decided to back out of the purchase because they feared for their safety, the court heard

They went on to find that he had been ‘unhappy’ that the couple had earlier pulled out of buying two of his properties in Swaffham.

The court heard how Green carried out the attack sometime between 5pm on Wednesday, June 26 and 5pm the next day. 

Green, who admitted arson, was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence as well as a restraining order and ordered to pay £8,796 compensation.

He was also ordered to complete 180 hours unpaid work and a 20 day rehabilitation programme. 

Acting Detective Inspector Richard Weller of Norfolk Police said after the hearing on Wednesday: ‘This was a selfish and vindictive act motivated by greed and control.

‘What should have been an exciting move to their dream home quickly became a nightmare for the victims.

‘I hope today’s result provides some closure to those who suffered from Matthew Green’s actions and reassures the public that we will thoroughly investigate crimes such as this to secure a successful prosecution. 

‘I am proud of my team’s efforts in securing this conviction for the victims.’

Green is the director of two property companies including one with assets of more than £560,000, according to its last published accounts.

He won a three-year battle in 2017 to build a luxury home on the site of an old 1970s bungalow in Castle Acre, Norfolk.

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