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Murder trial jury told of rows over drink.

A MAN accused of killing his father by setting him on fire told police alcohol had caused a lot of arguments between them.

Leslie Martin Stratford, who denies murder, said his father sometimes drank two bottles of whisky a day.

On the day of the fire, January 5, Stratford said he had just taken a petrol can out the car and was making his way through the house to put it into the shed when he saw his dad, Leslie John Stratford, aged 70, "mooching around," as though looking for a bottle of drink.

In an interview with the police, which was read to the jury by James Burbidge, for the prosecution, the defendant, aged 36, of no fixed address, said: "I asked him what he was looking for and he started to get shirty."

Mr Stratford snr then grabbed the petrol can and the cap came off.

Stratford said he didn't know how the subsequent fire started. "The only thing I can think off is my mobile phone charger was hot and some of the petrol fell on it, causing an ignition."

His father, who suffered severe burns, died in hospital soon after the fire at his home in Church Bank, Lower Binton, near Stratford.

The prosecution at Coventry Crown Court claims Stratford deliberately set his father alight because the latter had sold the house and he would have had nowhere to live.

The case continues.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 27, 1999
Words:237
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