Jail for ‘pseudo-gangster’ rapper who petrol-bombed house thinking it belonged to his rival

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Michael Athernought posted a rap video directed at his rival three days before where he said ‘war means war’

A rapper who petrol-bombed a woman’s home after mistaking it for the house of his rap rival has been jailed for almost 10 years.

Michael Jordan Athernought, 25, who raps under the name Ath, admitted committing arson with intent to endanger lives after throwing the homemade explosive at the door of a property.

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His intended victim had been fellow rapper Ricky Williams, also known as Chronic Official, with whom he had been in a long-running feud.

Instead he torched the home of a woman and her teenage son in Morriston, Swansea, on 16 November.

Michael Jordan Athernought  petrol-bombed a woman’s home after mistaking it for the house of his rap rival.Michael Jordan Athernought  petrol-bombed a woman’s home after mistaking it for the house of his rap rival.
Michael Jordan Athernought petrol-bombed a woman’s home after mistaking it for the house of his rap rival. | PA

Rapper posted YouTube video saying ‘war means war’

Athernought, from Swansea, was called “pathetic” and “childish” by the judge during a hearing at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, describing him as someone who thinks of himself as a “pseudo-gangster”.

Three days before, Athernought had posted a rap video directed at Mr Williams on YouTube, threatening to “burn your house to the ground”, adding: “War means war.”

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In the footage Athernought claims to be drunk and appears topless wearing a gold cross on a chain.

Athernought took down the clip, which had been viewed 71 times, after committing the offence.

The dispute between the two MCs began when Athernought shared one of Mr Williams’ tracks on Facebook and made negative comments about it, prosecutor Ian Wright QC told the court.

Athermought took offence at ‘diss track’

Shortly after, Mr Williams posted another rap, known as a ‘diss track’, about Athernought to which the defendant took exception.

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Just after 3am on the day of the offence, Athernought went to the street where he knew Mr Williams’ family lived and threw the firebomb he had taken with him at a house.

The house belonged to a woman and her teenage son, who was sleeping downstairs after breaking his leg.

Both woke to the sound of their fire alarm and people banging on their door.

Two neighbours, including one of Mr Williams’ brothers, had heard a glass smashing then the “whoosh” of the door catching fire, as well as seeing a man running away.

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After knocking down the door, the neighbours managed to get the woman and her son to safety and had mostly extinguished the fire by the time firefighters arrived on the scene at 3.16am.

A fire investigator later concluded that had neighbours not acted as quickly to save the family, the flames could have enveloped the whole house.

Shortly after, Athernought was arrested at home where South Wales Police officers found a jerrycan of petrol and a towel with pieces torn from it.

‘You seem to think that you can get away with what you want’

Sentencing Athernought, Judge Paul Thomas QC said: “You were involved in a feud with fellow rapper Ricky Williams arising out of comments he made about something you posted.

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“A more pathetic, childish reason for acting as you did is frankly quite difficult to imagine.

“Instead of acting as a grown-up you decided, because you think of yourself as some sort of pseudo-gangster, to make a video.

“And in that video you made threats to burn his house down. It was as graphically threatening as it was pathetically childish.

“You followed through with your threats by going to what you thought was his house and setting fire to it using accelerants.

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“In actual fact, due to your incompetence, you got the wrong house.”

He added: “If it hadn’t been for quick thinking on her behalf and others, far more damage, injury or worse could have been caused. That, however, was no thanks to you.”

The court heard that Athernought had a long history of criminal damage and violence, and was serving a suspended sentence for breaching a restraining order when he committed the offence.

“It seems to me that when you can’t have your way, you decide to destroy things,” Judge Thomas said.

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“I should also note as well, that your puerile contempt for the police and for the courts was all too apparent in the video that I have watched.

“Obviously, you seem to think that you can get away with what you want, because you’re in some way above all of that, being, of course, an important rapper.”

He handed Athernought an extended sentence of nine years and nine months, telling him he would have to serve four years and six months in prison before being released on license for the remainder of the term.

The judge ordered him to pay a surcharge on his release and imposed a 10-year restraining order.

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