A man has been jailed for setting fire to a pensioner because he spread rumours that they were in a gay relationship.

David Murray, 55, set fire to 80-year-old Richard Clark and his home, after the OAP told Murray’s daughter that they were having an affair.

Murray denied that such a relationship ever existed.

He drove to Mr Clark’s house, then kicked and banged on his door. He said: “You’ll be sorry. You’ll be dead by lunchtime.”

Blackfriars Crown Court heard how Mr Clark was in his house watching TV later that day when he head the noise of water running.

He went to the door and found a hosepipe sticking through the letter box. Petrol was pouring from the hosepipe.

Murray ignited the fuel, opened the door and fled the scene of the crime. Mr Clark suffered singed hair and burns to his hands.

Mr Clark, who suffers from chronic bronchitis, was taken to Lewisham hospital.

Murray was arrested the day after the arson at Mr Clark’s home in Brockley, South London.

He was identified in an identity parade by a witness who saw him running from the scene with a petrol can.

His daughter gave police an alibi for Murray, but later confessed that it was false.

In court Murray, of Bethwin Road, Walworth, pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life.

He has previous convictions for robbery and dishonesty.

Seth Levine, defending Murray, said: “Mr Murray considered Mr Clark to be a very close friend indeed, whom he confided in.

“His relationship with his daughter is extremely precious to him,” he added, according to the South London Press.

“The way the victim targeted that relationship was premeditated and done out of spite and vengeance.”

He claimed that the motive for spreading rumours of a gay affair was that Murray owed Mr Clark money.

Judge David Martineau ordered Murray to spend three-and-a-half years behind bars before being considered for parole.