Man cleared of trying to set ex-girlfriend on fire at Radlett swingers party

A JURY has cleared a man of trying to set his former lover on fire as she was preparing a swingers party for 150 people to attend.

Kenneth Stewart, 44, had been running a business with Helen Shields called “The Black Man’s Fan Club” and organised adult parties for members, with one of the main venues being a detached house in Theobald Street, Radlett.

Luton Crown Court was told that Miss Shields, 43, ended the four-and-a-half year relationship in November and despite attempts to continue running the business together, things had become untenable between her and Mr Stewart by January this year. Miss Shields, from Merseyside, had wanted her ex-partner to take over the running of another venue called Arousals in Dunstable, but he wanted a payment to walk away from the business.

The court heard that Miss Shields had organised a party at the Radlett address, called Littlecroft, on Saturday, February 20, by which time relations between the pair had deteriorated dramatically.

Miss Shields, who said that the parties were for “either black guys or a lady into black men,” arrived there with five men who were helping with catering, setting up the bar and security.

But they found Mr Stewart, who is known as Tony, inside the property with his new girlfriend and asked him to leave.

In cross examination Miss Shields said he later chased her through the house with a can of lighter fuel and a lighter.

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She initially thought the substance was acid but then feared he was trying to set her alight.

After a struggle, Miss Shields said her ex was overpowered by other men in the house and the police were called.

But Mr Stewart claimed that he never set out to set her on fire.

In the witness box, he told the jury that he went outside the house after being asked to leave but waited in the hope he would get a chance to talk to his former partner, who then appeared in the porch with one of the other men.

But he admitted that he had “flipped” moments later.

He continued: “It was a case of split second rage. I was annoyed. I was saying ‘You are robbing me’. I just let loose”

He said he had picked up the lighter fuel earlier while clearing up and claimed he never directed it at Miss Shields.

The jury found him not guilty of attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent and an alternative of making a threat to kill.

But Mr Stewart, of Hazelwood Road, Walthamstow, pleaded guilty to a charge of affray, for which he was jailed for 12 months but has already served the equivalent sentence on remand.

Judge Barbara Mensah said she was satisfied that he did throw the lighter fuel and said although he had a lighter on him, she did not believe it was lit.

She said it must have been very frightening for the victim and friends who witnessed it, who at first thought he was throwing acid.

And she also said that whatever the truth behind their business fall out it did not justify what he had done.

An indefinite restraining order was made ordering Mr Stewart not to contact Miss Shields or be within 100 yards of her.