Police have released pictures showing the extent of the damage caused by an arsonist as part of a bizarre scheme to win back his girlfriend.

Darren Smith was jailed for five years and five months at Exeter Crown CourtDarren Smith was jailed for five years and five months at Exeter Crown Court

Darren Smith caused £100,000 of damage to the Quaker Meeting House in Bideford when he lit the fire using a can of petrol in the doorway.

A seven-year-old girl who was staying with him was rescued by passers-by who climbed on the roof of a Range Rover to reach the child at a first floor window.

Police have welcomed the five year, five month sentence imposed at Exeter Crown Court on Friday (November 1) and said it should act as a warning to others.

The images which they have released show serious fire and smoke damage to Smith's own flat and those of two other tenants.

Police pictures of the damage caused by Darren Smith at the property in Bideford.Police pictures of the damage caused by Darren Smith at the property in Bideford.

He started the fire during an extraordinary plot to pretend that he and his ex partner were both victims of a campaign of terror. He hoped it would lead to her resuming their relationship.

Smith, aged 40, of Honestone Street, Bideford, admitted arson, harassment and threats to kill and was jailed for five years, five months by Judge David Evans.

After the case Detective Sergeant Steve Bates, of Barnstaple CID, said: "This investigation was a joint effort between the police and the fire service and we welcome this conviction.

"Painstaking work was undertaken to ensure that the public are now safeguarded from a dangerous individual who placed the life of a child at risk together with the lives of the wider public. Thankfully no-one suffered long standing injury.

"Sergeant John Crewe, the officer in the case, worked tirelessly to ensure that Smith was brought to justice and to emphasise that no stone would be left unturned in seeking the truth.

Sergeant Crewe added: "The offences committed by Smith were fuelled by his jealously of and obsession for his ex-partner.

"His offending knew no limits and this was highlighted by the danger he put himself and the child in by starting the fire.

"I am in no doubt that it was more luck than judgement that no-one perished in that fire, such was the devastation caused.

"Hopefully this case serves as a warning to him and others that serious crime will not be tolerated in North Devon and offenders will be dealt with."