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Christopher Kayla-Joseph tried to set fire to Shell petrol station on Blue Bell Hill

A man who repeatedly tried to set fire to a petrol station while high on drugs and alcohol has been locked up indefinitely.

Christopher Kayla-Joseph was told his dangerous actions could have led to loss of life and "enormous' destruction".

The 31-year-old first appeared on the Shell garage forecourt on Blue Bell Hill late at night, smoking a cigarette and brandishing a lighter.

The Shell garage on Blue Bell Hill. Picture: Google Street View
The Shell garage on Blue Bell Hill. Picture: Google Street View

Maidstone Crown Court heard he then tried to ignite flammable screen-wash which he had poured into the customer service hatch.

The terrified member of staff locked himself into his office and watched on CCTV as Kayla-Joseph then tried to set alight a petrol pump and a pile of firelighters.

He was still holding the lighter when police arrived to arrest him.

He told officers he had been drinking and taking heroin, cocaine and cannabis over a week before ending up 'bored and lost' as he made his way home from a night out in Maidstone.

Prosecutor Bridget Todd described his behaviour in the early hours of December 1 last year as 'angry, belligerent and determined'.

"The consequences could have been very serious. He made several attempts to start a fire and it was terrifying for the member of staff," she added.

"He made several attempts to start a fire and it was terrifying for the member of staff..." - prosecutor Bridget Todd

The court heard Kayla-Joseph has 10 previous convictions for 31 offences, and was on licence at the time from a five-year jail term imposed in 2015 for conspiracy to facilitate child prostitution.

He admitted attempted arson and was today ordered to be detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

Judge Adele Williams read psychiatric reports which detailed his schizophrenic and personality disorders, as well as long-standing substance abuse.

She was told that at the time of the offence Kayla-Joseph was 'probably psychotic' and became 'more and more desperate' as he tried to find his way home to St.John's Road in Gillingham.

Passing sentence, Judge Williams said he would not be released from a secure unit until it was considered safe to do so.

"It was incredibly dangerous to behave in the way that you did in a petrol station and could have led to loss of life and enormous destruction," she added.

Referring to the psychiatric help he had been receiving since his arrest, the judge continued: "A lot of people are putting in a very great deal of effort to assist you, treating your medical condition and to help you rehabilitate yourself.

"But you must realise that your substance misuse is a major factor and is aggravating and exacerbating your mental health condition."

Brian Shaw, defending, said such a hospital order would 'benefit' both the defendant and the community.

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