A FORMER Army recruit who believed his partner was having an affair with a delivery driver set fire to a Sheffield pizza shop, while staff were trapped inside.
Damien Walker, 30, had gone to the shop with the intention of confronting the man he believed was having an affair with his partner.
But after threatening staff with a knife when they told him the driver was not working, Walker later returned with petrol and set Pizza Central alight.
Susan Evans, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court, said when staff told Walker the man was not working, Walker leant over the counter and grabbed the arm of a male worker before swinging a knife at him.
Walker then stabbed the knife into the counter four or five time before shouting that he was going to burn down the shop.
The court heard Walker then threatened a female worker with the knife to get the driver’s phone number and left the shop - going on to send a series of threatening text messages to his love rival’s phone.
Walker left the shop to buy a petrol canister and fuel and returned to the shop, where he poured the petrol on to a bench for customers inside the takeaway in Sheffield.
He was barring the door so police who had been called to the scene initially couldn’t get inside as he made attempts to start the fire with his lighter.
Walker did manage to spark the lighter and set the bench alight, before he was tackled by PCs Daniel Goodinson and Dave Culshaw of South Yorkshire Police.
PC Goodinson said: “What was going through our minds was, ‘Oh my God, this is potentially going to go up’.
“We were trying to do everything we could to try and reason with him.”
He said despite their best efforts to talk him out of it, Walker set the bench alight.
PC Goodison said: “We were concerned the petrol was on him and on the floor, it looked like it was ready to go.
“We forced the door open and he went towards the staff members.
“I managed to get the knife out of his hands and we dragged him out the shop.”
He said while they were struggling with Walker, a member of staff bravely put the flames out.
PC Goodinson said he was pleased but surprised they had been singled out for praise by the judge in the case.
“It is lovely, we don’t normally get things like that,” he said.
“But it is just by chance me and Dave were first there. Had it been any of my colleagues, they would have done exactly the same.”