The owner of a pest control company was yesterday sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison for attempting to set his ex-girlfriend and her home on fire with paint thinner after sending her harassing messages. As she handed down the decision, Deputy Judge Ivy Chui Yee-mei said the offences committed by Calvin Lau Man-wai, 27, were particularly serious because he brought flammable liquid to the home of victim Kwok Lai-yin, who was a policewoman. Lau had earlier pleaded guilty at the District Court to one count of attempted arson and one of false imprisonment. "The defendant's acts are extremely naïve and irrational," Chui said. "This court cannot tolerate the defendant's radical acts to express his dissatisfaction towards [Kwok]." However, Chui gave Lau a two-month discount on his jail term, on top of the usual one-third discount for his guilty plea because the victim wrote to the court to appeal for leniency. Kwok said Lau had bravely admitted his own mistakes and had engaged in self-reflection after the incident. The court heard that on the afternoon on February 10, Lau sent Kwok "harassing" messages on WhatsApp such as, "Even if I am jailed for life, I will make you die." Kwok replied: "Just do it. Do not talk nonsense here." They had already broken up at the time. At about 9.30pm the same day, Lau brought a can of paint thinner to the victim's Tai Wai home - which they once shared. The court heard Lau poured out the liquid in the sitting room, and Kwok was so scared she hid in her bedroom. She was worried that Lau would start a fire so she attempted to flee, but Lau was guarding the front door. Kwok managed to shove him away as Lau spilled the liquid over her. On Lau's request, Kwok knelt down to apologise. Lau then poured the thinner on the floor again, and tried to set it ablaze with his lighter. But the court heard the lighter did not work properly at the time, so his attempt was in vain. "It is lucky that this case did not result in any injuries or loss of life," Chui said yesterday. The judge also rejected defence lawyers' mitigation submissions that Lau brought the thinner to Kwok's home to fix a pest control device that he placed there, and that his acts were not premeditated.