Jail for man who set fire to Yorkshire petrol station when staff refused to serve him - narrowly avoiding an explosion

A Rotherham man who recklessly set fire to a petrol station forecourt has been jailed for 45 months.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how on November 12 last year, Scott Dearing, 36, visited the Jet garage on Masborough Street in Rotherham and tried to fill up a petrol container with fuel.

Jet only allows customers to fill one handheld can with fuel for safety reasons, so he was challenged by the night cashier when they saw him starting to fill a second.

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Dearing began threatening the cashier, and after they refused to switch the pump pack on, he poured petrol over the newspaper stands, night hatch and front entrance to the building and set it alight.

Scott DearingScott Dearing
Scott Dearing

Several minutes later, after realising the seriousness of his actions, Dearing returned and put the fire out using sand, before being detained by police officers. He was found to be in possession of a bladed article, and during his arrest, attempted to assault a police officer and caused criminal damage to a police vehicle.

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Detective Constable Brad Hunt, who lead the investigation into the incident for South Yorkshire Police, said: "This was an extremely dangerous incident which could have ended very badly.

"At the time when Dearing started the fire, a member of the public was waiting to be served at the night hatch, and the cashier was still inside the building. Not only could Dearing have caused very serious, if not fatal injuries to these two innocent people, but he also risked causing a significant fire or explosion.

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DC Hunt added: "On investigating the crime we established that there was 6,943 litres of diesel fuel in the underground tank where Dearing set fire to the fuel on the forecourt. In the other tanks, there were another 24,849 litres of fuel. Had any of the fuel in the underground tanks ignited, a major incident would have been declared leading to the evacuation of numerous businesses and residential properties, and likely causing fatalities.

"I am pleased that the sentence handed to Dearing reflects the seriousness of his reckless actions."

Dearing, formerly of Ash View, Greasbrough, pleaded guilty to arson endangering life, possession of a knife/bladed article, criminal damage to a vehicle and a Section 4 Public Order offence. He was sentenced to 45 months behind bars on March 16.