Man with lighter who threatened to burn down filling station gets suspended jail term

Strand Service Station
Strand Service Station

A drunk man carrying a lighter who was told there could have been “catastrophic consequences” if he had followed through on a threat to burn down a filling station in a built-up area of Coleraine has been given a four months jail term, suspended for a year.

The sentence was handed down at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday August 13 after sentencing had been deferred for six months.

Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare, speaking at the court in February, had said: “Messing about with a lighter at a petrol station absolutely beggars belief”.

Jamie McCann (22), with an address at Lodge Road in Coleraine, previously had a charge of attempted arson at Strand Service Station in Coleraine withdrawn after he admitted other charges arising out of the incident.

He assaulted a man; stole a packet of cigarettes from the filling station and was disorderly at Strand Road, Coleraine.

He had also admitted assaulting a police officer and resisting another officer in the execution of his duty.

McCann also pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the interior of a police car and two charges of causing damage to a PSNI cell.

In February, a prosecutor told the court that at 8.30pm on Sunday August 27 last year the defendant entered the shop at the filling station and after asking for and getting a packet of cigarettes then ran out the door without paying.

A staff member followed him and retrieved the cigarettes and McCann starting lashing out with punches and kicks although none connected.

The court heard an inebriated McCann then produced a lighter and stated he would “burn the place down” before he threw the lighter down causing the lighter to explode.

McCann then took a petrol pump and “stuck it in a bucket” before running out on to a road shouting.

His friends tried to calm him down but he went back and grabbed two petrol pumps before running off when police arrived.

When arrested, according to the prosecuting lawyer, McCann tried to headbutt an officer and then spat on seats in a PSNI vehicle.

He then damaged a police cell with blood and urine and when moved to another cell he punched and damaged a camera.

During a police interview McCann admitted stealing the cigarettes and then, whilst outside, he offered £20 but when he allegedly didn’t get either the cigarettes or the money back he held “a cigarette lighter up towards the petrol pumps”.

The defendant told police he then wanted to “waste £20 of fuel”.

Defence barrister Thomas McKeever told the February court there had been a “flagrant disregard for law and order”.

He said at the time McCann was “heavily intoxicated and was under the mis-use of substances also” but that, in February, his client said he was drug and alcohol free.

Deferring sentencing in February for six months, Judge O’Hare said it was a very serious matter which “could have had catastrophic consequences for you, the shopkeeper and anyone else in the area. Messing about with a lighter at a petrol station absolutely beggars belief”.

He said a pre-sentence report showed a “marked change” in the defendant and Judge O’Hare had deferred sentencing until August to see if McCann could continue to turn a corner, stay out of trouble and make restitution.

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