Lloyd Jenkins, the 33-year-old Hundleton man accused of setting fire to his girlfriend’s flat, has told a Crown Court judge that his sole intention that night was to walk away from the property and also from his girlfriend, Chloe Meakin, who he described as ‘frantic, abusive and angry.’
“She was screaming about me going with this girl, that I’d betrayed ,and all sorts of other stuff,” he told the jury at Swansea Crown Court earlier today (Friday).
“So I asked her, three or four times, for her phone so I could phone my brother and go and stay with him. But she told me ‘No. **** off’. So I immediately left.”
Jenkins, dressed in a black shirt and black trousers, told the jury that October 15, 2022 had started well as their three children – two of whom were Chloe’s from a previous relationship and one of whom is Jenkins’s – were spending that night with their grandmother.
“It was just the two of us because Chloe wanted to take me out to say thank you for stepping in to stay at home and look after the kids while she tried to find work,” continued Lloyd Jenkins. “It was quite positive.”
Earlier that day the couple had gone out for a meal together before returning to Chloe’s flat in Richard John Road, Milford Haven, where they started drinking rum and cokes. Later that evening they went to the Kitchener pub in MIlford Haven where Jenkins said he continued drinking Jack Daniels and coke. This was where tensions began to escalate between the two parties.
“She began accusing me of seeing another female who had walked into the pub and this was where we first had words. But when we moved on to Circles (nightclub), things got heated. I left pretty much instantly as I couldn’t be dealing with stuff like that because what she was accusing me of, I wasn’t doing.
“ I left because Chloe was very drunk and there was no point arguing with her in that state. So I chose to take myself away from the situation.”
Jenkins said that he then walked back to Chloe’s flat, which took him between five and ten minutes, to find that Chloe Meakin was already there.
“She was still in a frantic state so I asked her for her phone so I could ring my brother.”
Jenkins explained to the jury his reasons for not having a phone of his own.
“It’s easier for me not to have one, because when I did, Chloe would go through it and give me a hard time about looking for models on Instagram or having arguments with me about social media. So I didn’t have a mobile phone for an easier life. And if anyone wanted to contact me, it was through Chloe.”
Jenkins told the jury that it was at this point that he decided to leave the flat and go to a friend’s house nearby.
However the Crown claim that Ms Meakin’s refusal to allow him to use her phone resulted in him resorting to violence in the couple’s bedroom.
The Crown alleges that he removed plants from their pots, smashed the TV, damaged its stand and removed a large picture canvas from the wall before throwing it at Ms Meakin’s face. The jury was shown a photograph of the facial injuries sustained by the complainant.
The Crown further alleges that after Ms Meakin left the property to go to a neighbour’s flat, Jenkins set fire to the kitchen using synthetic material which he placed inside both the top and bottom ovens and on two separate areas of the vinyl flooring. As a result of the fire, there was extensive smoke damage to the living room, bathroom, bedroom, hallway and staircase.
“You were so frustrated that your weekend had been ruined and that you were again being accused of being back in touch with this female that you just lost your temper” said Ashanti-Jane Walton, KC, for The Crown.
“No,” responded Jenkins. “I know I wasn’t responsible for starting the fire in the flat. It must have been Chloe.”
Jenkins has been charged with arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered, criminal damage to property and assault by beating. He denies all three charges.
Judge Catherine Richards KC is expected to conclude her legal instructions to the jury later this afternoon before asking them to retire to consider their verdict