A heartless youth with two antisocial behaviour orders under his belt has been jailed for 10 years after setting fire to a gay couple's home as they slept.

Sonny Lockwood, 20, targeted his victims, Nicholas Hughes and Peter Cameron at their home in North Downs Crescent, New Addington, in retaliation to the pair testifying against him at an earlier Asbo hearing.

He denied the charges of arson with intent to endanger life.

However, a jury found him guilty of two counts of arson at Croydon Crown Court last September and he was sentenced by Judge MacRae yesterday.

Nicholas Hughes awoke in the early hours of the January 23, 2006, to find the hallway of his home in North Downs Crescent alight.

Petrol was poured through the letterbox of Mr Hughes' home while he and his partner Peter Cameron were asleep in their upstairs bedroom.

Shortly afterwards a parachute flare was posted and ignited, but it was prevented from causing more damage because it got caught on a metal letterbox cage.

Mr Hughes said he was woken by shouts from Mr Cameron at 4am.

Judge Kenneth MacRae said: "I had to consider whether I have to pass a custodial sentence for public protection.

"I've concluded from the helpful psychiatric report alongside your letter for me today that I can pass a determinate sentence.

"This was a potentially murderous attack, saved from being just that by the letter cage in the front door.

"You don't have the benefit of a guilty plea. Still, you are only 20, and have been in custody for the past 15 to 16 months."

As the sentence was passed, his family and friends in the public gallery, including his dad Robert Lockwood and mum Dawn Watkins, were shocked.

As he was led away by guards, his mum shouted: "We love you son."

  • To read Lockwood's victim's account of the arson attack click here.

Lockwood's history

Lockwood is a persistent trouble-maker who has a long list of previous offences dating back to when he was 15.

He was issued with one of the borough's first-ever Asbos in 2004 and was also the first person to be banned from New Addington at the age of 15.

In May 2006 he was given a controversial five-year Asbo while he was in custody for breaching his first one.

This fresh order, banning him from harrassing or intimidating anyone in England and Wales, was described by the council as being the first of its kind in Croydon.

However, in December 2006 a judge said this order was too strict and reduced it by three years. This was despite the court being told that Lockwood was suspected of being involved in the arson he has now been convicted of.

Council officials have described Lockwood as a "prolific" offender who terrorised residents in New Addington. He was also placed on Croydon's prolific and priority offender scheme, which identifies persistent antisocial offenders.

Councillor Steve O'Connell, cabinet member for crime, said: "We are pleased on behalf of the community that justice has been served and that this case has been taken to its natural conclusion.

"The Asbo was appropriate at the time but the crimes escalated and become more serious so it was a matter to be dealt with by the police. We are pleased a satisfactory conclusion has been reached."