A drunk caught on CCTV attempting to start a New Year fire at a petrol station has been jailed for 44 months.
A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh today rejected Jason Wilson’s plea to impose a non-custodial sentence and told him: “There is no doubt there was potential risk to the public.”
More than 68,000 litres of fuel were stored in underground tanks at Malthurst Fuels, Dean Road, Bo’ness, where Wilson carried out his crime, with homes and a large hotel nearby.
The 25-year-old tried unsuccessfully to ignite residual petrol in hoses at the pumps at the garage, which had closed for evening.
At one stage he returned to the premises smoking a cigarette and tried to insert it into one of the nozzles.
Advocate depute David Taylor said: “Because of modern security equipment it is difficult to set fire to a petrol station.
“But had it take hold it could potentially have reached the underground tanks with devastating consequences.”
“Given the considerable amount of combustible materials present – petrol, diesel, gas cylinders, firelighters, BBQ lighter fluid, paraffin – such a fire would have caused nearby properties to be threatened.
“Any firefighter called to deal with such an incident would themselves have been exposed to considerable risk.”
“Throughout the incident the accused appeared extremely drunk, having difficulty walking and maintaining his footing.”
Wilson admitted culpable and reckless conduct by placing a fuel nozzle in a bin and deliberately setting fire to the bin, putting a lit cigarette in a nozzle and pushing over a cage containing gas canisters, all to the danger of the public, on January 1.
The court heard that Wilson had 32 previous convictions and in July last year was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment for vandalism, police assault and threatening behaviour. He was released weeks before his latest crime.
Wilson, of no fixed abode, has previously been jailed for culpable and reckless conduct for throwing a four-year-old boy out of a window and for setting fire to a victim’s hair and the door of a public toilet.
Mr Taylor said the filling station had been closed for the evening on Hogmanay and the fuel pumps were closed off and secured.
But in the early hours of the morning a member of the public rang police saying a man in dark clothing was throwing petrol hoses about on the forecourt.
Officers found Wilson near the garage and he told them he had “smashed up the petrol station”. They could see nozzles lying about but no obvious damage.
When the manager arrived later that morning he reviewed CCTV footage which revealed the extent of Wilson’s actions.
Defence counsel Derick Nelson said: “The most likely scenario is he could have set himself on fire. He finds it difficult to understand what he has done.”
He added that Wilson had fallen out with a friend he had been staying with, was drunk and felt “helpless and homeless”.