Mentally ill fire-starter sprayed fuel all over petrol station and ignited it

A DERANGED arsonist will be locked up indefinitely after spraying petrol all over a Grantham petrol station forecourt, before setting it alight and fleeing the scene.

Mentally ill fire-starter Hussian Murad attacked the Grantham filling station on Boxing Day last year, before driving to Swaffham where he did the same thing again.

Recorder of Norwich, Judge Peter Jacobs, praised attendant at the Swaffham filling station, Trudy Smith, who still suffers nightmares from the incident.

“She had great presence of mind to turn off the supply to the pumps. That is almost certainly the reason the whole garage didn’t blow up,” said the judge.

During a trial which lasted two days Murad, 33, of Holkham Avenue, Leicester was cleared of arson being reckless as to whether lives were endangered . But he was convicted of two straight forward arson charges which did not involve recklessness.

Making an order without a time limit, the judge told him: “ If you were released into the community the medicine would not be taken and you would be a real danger to yourself and others.”

Murad was detained under the Mental Health Act.

His motives were not clear due to his illness but the judge said he felt it was predominantly a wish to return to Iraq, from where he came years ago as an asylum seeker.

Andrew Oliver, prosecuting, said “Murad started a fire at 11.15pm in very dangerous circumstances after driving into the BP garage on the A47 and went up to pump 7 and another car pulled up behind.

“He put petrol in his tank and went to the passenger door, removed the petrol pump and sprayed it for a few seconds into the passenger area, bending down before an explosion and the car going up in flames.

“The car behind reversed and Trudy Smith, the attendant, cut off fuel to all the pumps, also ringing the emergency services. He left on foot, being seen walking down the A47 towards Dereham.

“Police stopped him 400-500 metres away and he smelled very strongly of fuel and fire – his hair was singed and he had a red lighter in his jacket pocket.”

When interviewed, he said he had gone to Heathrow and Dover to leave the country to return to his native Iraq.

Mr Oliver continued : “He was clearly unwell. He said: ‘I didn’t want to take my car home and I had an argument with my girlfriend on Christmas Day. I don’t know why I caused the fires other than to get arrested so I could go back’.”

Referring to the earlier incident, Mr Oliver said : “It occurred at 6.30am at Marston, between Newark and Grantham, on the A1 when he sprayed two and half litres of petrol onto the forecourt and caused two feet high flames.

The attendant used two buckets of sand to extinguish the flame. Murad ran away but then returned and drove off in his car,

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Simon Plunkett said it was clear Murad was ill: “He has responded to treatment and is now aware of the risks of his actions.”