Till worker’s terror over petrol station fire attack

Friday 11th March 2022 7:00 am
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A CCTV still of a person lighting a puddle of petrol.
(CPS )

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A ‘COURAGEOUS and brave’ petrol station worker tackled a man who lit fuel and threatened to blow up the garage.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Lahrne Dobbs poured petrol over his clothes and the forcecourt of the BP garage in Caldicot Road, Rogiet, before setting fire to it with a lighter.

The terrifying incident happened shortly before 4.30am on April 15 last year, after the 32-year-old father-of-four demanded cigarettes from sole till worker Pana Paul.

Mr Paul called police, but CCTV footage played to the court then showed him bravely leaving “the security of the pay window” to grab the filling pump and put out the flames on Dobbs’ clothing and the forecourt.

Dobbs, of Oakley Way, Caldicot, admitted arson reckless as to the endangerment of life and was sectioned to be detained indefinitely in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

Judge Michael Fitton QC told him: “Mr Paul took it upon himself to challenge you while calling the police and patted you to extinguish the fire on your clothing.

“The victim was particularly vulnerable as he left the security of his office and came to tackle you face to face.”

Prosecutor Owen Williams told the court that Dobbs had “refused to place money on the counter” at the night pay window for the cigarettes and became angry over being unable to enter the shop.

The till worker gave him a cigarette to calm him down, but the defendant then put an advertising sign in the middle of the main road, prompting Mr Paul to use the Tannoy to tell him to put it back.

“Dobbs then returned to the night pay window and said if he was not provided with cigarettes he would blow up the petrol station,” said the prosecutor.

“He picked up a petrol pump and told Mr Paul: ‘If you do not open this door I will set it on fire’.”

While the till worker called police, Dobbs then began pumping fuel onto the ground and his clothes and lit it.

After Mr Paul rushed out and doused the flames before pushing Dobbs away, the defendant ran off but was arrested nearby by police.

Andrew Taylor, defending, said Dobbs, who has 11 previous convictions for 15 offences, had struggled with bipolar disorder.

Psychiatric doctor Dr Steve Attwood said he had been “self-medicating” with alcohol and diazepam beforehand, and failure to take his medication meant that “re-offending is always going to be a risk”.

But having spent 10 months in custody while on remand, he was a much-changed and “well” man, the court heard.

As well as sentencing him to an indefinite hospital stay, Judge Fitton ordered Dobbs not to approach or attempt to contact Mr Paul.

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