A gypsy couple say they are living in fear after petrol was emptied over the front of their Yeovil home in the early hours of Tuesday.
Graham Holloway, 37, of Matthews Road, was in bed with his partner Cassie Russell, 30, when he heard a noise at the front of his home at around 2am. When he investigated, he found petrol from a can which had been stored at the side of his house had been poured over the building.
Three of Miss Russell’s children, aged between five and ten, were in the house at the time. The couple are now terrified of what could happen next and have asked Yarlington Housing Group, which owns their home, if they can be moved from the rented property.
Yesterday, they were waiting to see if their request would be granted.
Mr Holloway said: “Someone must know something. There were children in the house. There’s enough of this sort of thing going on in the world recently. It scares you.
“We heard a lot of knocking about in the gardens. We initially through it was the badgers coming over the back because we do get a lot of badgers. But when we went outside, it absolutely reeked of petrol.
“There was no one else about. Most of the neighbours in the road didn’t know the fire engine and police cars had turned up. It was fireworks night so you wouldn’t hear anything.”
Mr Holloway believes the incident is the latest in a series of alleged acts of “hate crime” against the couple who come from a gypsy background.
He added: “Over the past couple of years we have had a lot of crime against us because we are gypsies and it may be linked to that. They may not have intended to set fire to it.
“People call us ‘dirty gypsies’ or ‘dirty pikeys’. I’ve had my car smashed up.
“There’s something strange going on.”
A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire Service said one appliance from Yeovil attended the scene at around 2.15am and crews washed away a small amount of petrol with buckets of water.
Police are investigating the incident as criminal damage, a spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary said.
He said: “This occurred at about 2.15am this morning. It looks like somebody has taken a petrol can from the side of the house and emptied it at the front of the house and left the can.
“Police conducted house to house inquiries. The investigation continues and we would appeal for anybody with information to contact 101.”
Alternatively, anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.