Published: 15:58, 31 July 2006
A 35-year-old man who doused himself in petrol on the forecourt of a supermarket filling station has been sentenced to 51 weeks in jail, suspended for two years.
Canterbury Crown Court was told that Philip Charles, of Crossways Avenue, Margate, was depressed and suicidal when he drove to Tescos filling station at Westwood near Broadstairs, on April 29.
He filled up jerry cans and paid for the fuel, then returned to his van and poured petrol over the floor and tipped the contents of the cans over the van roof, the pump and himself.
The fire brigade had already been alerted and when Charles lit the petrol using a piece of fleece wound round his wing mirror, the blaze was quickly extinguished and he suffered only minor injuries.
He had called the police on his mobile saying he intended to set himself alight and when an attendant tried to warn him of the dangers of using a mobile while using the pump, Charles held the nozzle at arm's length warning the attendant not to come any closer.
The day before he had delivered some outstanding wages and spoke of buying Neurofen and said it was on his mind to kill himself.
On the day of the incident he had waited for a caravan to move away from the pumps before going to pump 16 which was furthest from the fuel tanks because he was keen to ensure nobody else got hurt.
Charles' lawyer, Louis French, said it was a suicide bid but Charles couldn't explain why he didn't go to a field.
Mr French said it was a regrettable incident and Charles was ashamed of his behaviour and regretted the trouble he had caused.
Charles, who had admitted arson being reckless whether life was endangered, will be under supervision for 12 months and must pay £500 costs.