AN ARSONIST is said to have set his neighbour's home ablaze in a revenge attack and then pretended to be a hero by going back into the burning flat.

Teenager Kyle Greenwood bore a grudge against Sean Williamson, who lived in the flat below him on Church Street, Farnworth.

Greenwood had spent time in custody awaiting sentence for burgling Mr Williamson's home and later returned to live with his mother, Valerie in the flat above the victim.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Greenwood, who set himself on fire while playing with a cigarette lighter when he was aged four and has a previous conviction for arson, burgled Mr Williamson's flat again on July 10 while the victim was visiting friends.

Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, told how he returned upstairs with Mr Williamson's bank cards, briefcase and Spongebob Squarepants figurines.

He had told his mother and partner, Katie Cook: "There's load of money in his house. I'm going to get it."

Miss Cook then smelled smoke, called the fire service and they all escaped from the terraced property.

Greenwood was said to have told her: "I've just tried to blow Will's gaff up."

But at one stage, in what Mr Wilcock described as an "elaborate charade", Greenwood smashed the ground floor window and tried to go inside.

He told Mr Williamson, who arrived on the scene: "Your flat was on fire and I tried to save your life."

Judge Richard Gioserano was told that a fire investigation had shown the property had been ransacked, with furniture overturned and a naked flame had been used to start two seats of fire — one in the living room and, in another room, in a pile of records and books.

"I think he is still angry he was convicted for burgling my house," Mr Williamson later told police.

The victim, who suffers with breathing difficulties, said he had lost everything in the fire. "I am no longer able to live there," he said.

Greenwood, aged 19 pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. He claimed that he had started the fire in order to cover up the burglary rather than as revenge.

He will be sentenced on October 16 to enable further details to be obtained from Mr Williamson about the impact the arson attack has had on him. "It is a very serious case of a young man facing a long, long sentence, possibly an extended sentence," said the judge.