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Woman, 23, weeps as she avoids jail after posting lit firework through her ex’s letterbox

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A woman who posted a lit firework through her ex-boyfriend’s letterbox in a revenge attack has been spared jail. 

Hannah Linklater, 23, got drunk while with her friend Louise Burgess, 27, and lit the device before pushing it into the hallway of Joel Johnson’s home, Manchester Crown Court heard. 

Linklater is said to have been bitter after spending much of the £7,000 left to her by her late mother on the failed and ‘toxic’ three-year relationship.    

Mr Johnson, 46, was woken by the commotion and managed to stamp out the fuse before the firework could explode. 

He escaped uninjured with only minor damage being caused to his carpet at his property in Burnage.

An investigation into the attack in March 2020 revealed the couple were known to police after Linklater accused Mr Johnson of assault and he accused her of harassment. 

Hannah Linklater (right), 23, got drunk with her friend Louise Burgess (left), 27, and lit the device before pushing it into the hallway of Joel Johnson's home, Manchester Crown Court heard

Hannah Linklater (right), 23, got drunk with her friend Louise Burgess (left), 27, and lit the device before pushing it into the hallway of Joel Johnson’s home, Manchester Crown Court heard

Officers recovered text messages detailing hostilities between them.

Linklater, of Burnage, and Burgess, of Bolton, had faced jail after admitting arson at Manchester Crown Court. 

But each were given two-year prison sentences suspended for 24 months after a judge said there were ‘exceptional circumstances.’

Both were also each ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work, attend a ‘women’s problem solving court’ and were banned from contacting Mr Johnson indefinitely under the terms of a restraining order.

Linklater, who was meant to be celebrating her birthday, wept in the dock as Judge Hilary Manley told her and Burgess: ‘To put a lit firework through the letterbox of somebody’s home is a wicked and dangerous thing thing to do.

‘Fortunately the damage done was minimal although it could have course have been very serious indeed. The motive was revenge a borne out of anger and rejection by the victim this case.

‘I accept you were affected by the volatility and toxicity of this relationship but your foolish and dangerous actions have led you on your 23rd birthday to the dock of a crown court. 

‘But you each feel and demonstrate remorse and there is lack of maturity and difficult backgrounds.’

Earlier the court heard the couple had began dating when she was 17 and Johnson was 40. 

She had been left £7,000 by her late mother and had been awarded a damages payout following an assault and she used the money to set up home with Johnson.

Linklater (pictured) is said to have been bitter after spending much of the £7,000 left to her by her late mother on the failed and 'toxic' three-year relationship with Mr Johnson

Linklater (pictured) is said to have been bitter after spending much of the £7,000 left to her by her late mother on the failed and ‘toxic’ three-year relationship with Mr Johnson

But the relationship became ‘abusive and toxic’ with both making counter allegations against each other and it ended in 2018. 

The following year Linklater contacted police three times to claim Johnson had beaten her up during arguments whilst he accused her of stalking him over a period of nine months – although no action was taken.

Simon Barrett prosecuting said: ‘At approximately 11.20pm on March 5, 2020 Joel Johnson was asleep in the front upstairs bedroom of his address when he was awoken by the sound of Hannah Linklater who had attended at his address and was shouting that she was going to smash up a car.

‘About 25 minutes later Joel Johnson heard a car pull up outside his address. The driver of the car was Hannah Linklater. 

‘The front seat passenger, later identified as Louise Burgess got out of the car and walked towards his front door with her hood up and concealing her appearance. 

‘Joel Johnson heard the letter box open before Louise Burgess returned to the car which drove off.

‘When he went to top of the stairs to check what had happened he could see that the carpet at the bottom of the stairs was on fire. 

‘Joel Johnson was able to stamp out the fire and noticed that a firework was jammed in the letter box.

‘Later that day Joel Johnson saw the occupants of the car at some shops where Hannah Linklater laughed at him and said that she would: ‘do his mum’s next.’ The fire service were not required to attend at the property. Damage caused was fire damage to the carpet.’

The two women were arrested the following June but both made no comment in police interview. 

Linklater, of Burnage, and Burgess, of Bolton, had faced jail after admitting arson at Manchester Crown Court (Pictured)

Linklater, of Burnage, and Burgess, of Bolton, had faced jail after admitting arson at Manchester Crown Court (Pictured)

Linklater had convictions for common assault and theft from 2014 whilst Burgess was of previous good character.

In mitigation Linklater’s lawyer Miss Sara Haque told the hearing: ‘She had never effectively dealt with the loss of her mother when she went into a relationship with the victim in this case.

‘She had inherited a small amount of money from her late mother and had also been the victim of an assault and recovered compensation but all that money had gone into the house and home she shared with Joel Johnson.

‘The relationship became toxic and abusive and when it ended she was left with nothing.

‘She had become besotted with Mr Johnson and she could not walk away from their relationship after it ended despite knowing it was not good for her or him. 

‘The offence did cause risk of harm but the actual harm caused was limited. her was not likely to have suffered serious psychological harm. A firework is unlikely to cause the same level of risk as a petrol bomb.

‘Whilst there must have been some planning to go to the address it was an offence which was very much of the moment that was impulsive and unsophisticated.

‘She is extremely vulnerable and has been a victim of emotional and physical abuse. 

‘She is very much the manifestation of what causes females often to end up within the criminal justice system in relation to themes of abuse and trauma.’

For mother of two Burgess, defence counsel Rachel Cooper said: ‘These two had a very intensive friendship. As far as Miss Burgess understood Mis Linklater was in abusive relationship and she heard and saw things which supported that.

‘She shouldn’t have got involved in this and it wasn’t her battle but she got involved in a misguided attempted at providing protection and assistance. 

‘It was a spur of the moment offence and she immediately regretted her actions. She is grateful no harm was caused.’



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