Court shown dramatic footage of horrified customers fleeing bank as suspect sets it on fire

Dramatic footage of horrified customers fleeing a bank before flames engulfed its entrance and of a suspect cornered by armed officers in a train station were played to a jury in Hull yesterday.

A jury at Hull Crown Court was shown the dramatic footage of terrified customers fleeing the bank, before flames engulfed the entrance
A jury at Hull Crown Court was shown the dramatic footage of terrified customers fleeing the bank, before flames engulfed the entrance

A fact-finding hearing is taking place at Hull Crown Court after a branch of Santander in the city centre was set on fire by a man, who also poured petrol on the floor of the nearby Barclays and was seen brandishing a meat cleaver, on September 11 last year.

Syrian Ahmad Mohammed, 25, of Innsworth Garth, Bransholme, who is accused of carrying out the attacks, was not present in court on Tuesday.

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-> Drink driver caught after police chase in Leeds and Wakefield said: 'I'm sorry for being a d***'The incident ended after a police chase, captured on an officer’s body camera, into Paragon Station, where the bearded attacker was cornered by armed officers, who used two rounds of rubber bullets and three Tasers to disable him.

One firearms officer told the jury he saw “petrified” people running out of Barclays.

He had been told a man had set himself on fire, but when he saw the suspect realised he was actually trying to set fire to a canister he was holding.

He and his colleague used carbon dioxide fire extinguishers, managing to thwart his attempts, but the man then came towards him with a meat cleaver.

The officer said the floor was “swimming with petrol”, adding: “I deployed the Taser - I thought he was going to set fire to my colleague, to me, I thought the whole place was going to go up in smoke.”

Members of the public also vividly described the attack.

Christopher Lambert-Dowell was in Barclays when he heard a commotion and turned around.

“He was waving a meat cleaver in his right hand in an extremely aggressive manner, above him, in front of him, and he had a bottle which I presumed to be water, which he seemed to be sloshing about all over the place.

“My instinct took over. I heard a voice which said: ‘Get out’ - and I scarpered.”

Footage showed a terrified member of staff being bundled out of the door of the branch along with a woman, who had a baby in a pram. Both women had barricaded themselves inside a room using the pram.

Minutes earlier the man had rushed into Santander and demanded money from employee Donna Pudsey.#

CCTV captured him splashing petrol over seats, walls and floors. One customer grabbed her bag and left seconds before he doused the desk where she had been sitting with petrol.

Ms Pudsey told how at one point she was trapped in an office with colleagues and he was pouring petrol under the door and threatening to set it alight.

Ms Pudsey said after “quite a long period of time” he lit fires in the banking hall. “At that point we knew we had to get out,” she added.

Judge Paul Watson QC told the jury that their job was not to decide whether Mr Mohammed was guilty of any criminal offences, nor were they to make any findings about his mental state at the time.

Instead their job is to make “determinations” over eight questions. These include whether he had damaged the Santander branch by fire and whether he did “an act or acts in order to damage by fire” Barclays.

They also need to decide whether he threw petol on or at a bank employee and whether he had a bladed weapon in King Edward Street. The case continues.