A family have been left fearing for their lives after thugs doused their front door with petrol in a case of mistaken identity.

Graham Radstone said he and his wife and children could have been killed by the arson attack, at about 1.30am on Saturday, and are terrified the thugs could strike again.

He said: "The only reason it wasn’t a massive fire is because my 10-year-old son happened to be awake and heard the explosion as the petrol was lit. He looked out the window and saw light he clearly recognised as coming from flames and two people wearing hoods. One shouted ‘lets’ go, let’s go’ and they ran up Avenue Crescent."

When Mr Radstone got downstairs and the smoke alarms started going off less than two minutes later the flames had already burned through the front door.

He and his wife Shan doused the fire with water but now they and their two sons, aged 13 and 10, live in fear the thugs might strike again.

Mr Radstone said: "The children are terrified, they’re not sleeping, they’re up half the night seeing what activity is going on outside, and my wife is traumatised."

The family moved into the dilapidated house in Heathfield Road, Acton, in April, transforming it into their ideal home.

Their first reaction to the attack was to move out but they have so far decided against it because of the support of their neighbours.

Mr Radstone said: "Everyone is shocked and has been extremely sympathetic. Some people have lived here for up to 40 years and nobody has ever had this sort of experience before."

The family believe their home used to be the house of a known criminal who was the real target of the attack and who is thought to be still claiming to live there.

Police would not confirm this but did say they believe the thugs targeted the wrong address.

Mr Radstone said police installed a rapid response alarm but have failed to keep other promises such as CCTV and visible patrols and have done a poor job keeping in contact.

He added: "I’m fearful not enough is being done to stop this happening again. I don’t know if I’m going to walk out of my front door and face someone with a gun, or even something worse."

Police said the South Acton Safer Neighbourhoods Team has increased patrols in the area and CCTV is being installed this week.