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Scrapyard worker jailed for setting colleague on fire.

A MAN from Kirkby has been jailed for seven years after he caused a scrapyard colleague to be engulfed in flames.

Preston Crown Court heard that scrapyard worker George Leonard was pouring petrol from a container with the help of a pump. But, in what he called "a prank", he sparked a lighter close to the legs of another worker whose lower clothing had been drenched in petrol by Leonard.

In "an explosion of flames", Christopher Atkinson was engulfed in fire and suffered burns to his body, mostly on his leg and thigh, the court was told.

Leonard, 39, of Clorain Road, Northwood, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harmto Mr Atkinson in September last year.

The court heard that, at the time of the offence, he had been released on licence from a five-year jail term, passed in 2004 for a wounding offence involving a machete.

His new sentence will only start once he has completed the outstanding prison term, which runs out in March 2009.

The court heard that the incident happened at the yard in Kent Street, Preston, where Mr Atkinson wanted to have a can filled with petrol for his car.

He had started to undo the cap when Leonard, who was in charge of dispensing the fuel, decided not to wait for the cap to come off.

He activated the pump, causing a gush of petrol which drenched Mr Atkinson's legs.

There were two more similar gushes which drenched his lower clothing.

Mr Atkinson then remonstrated with Leonard, who laughed.

His mood apparently changed and Leonard told the other man "shut up, or I'll burn you", the court was told.

He went on to say: "Right, I'm looking for my lighter".

Leonard got his lighter, moved to the rear of the car where Mr Atkinson was stood and bent down.

An explosion of flame followed which engulfed Mr Atkinson and caused him serious injuries.

Mr Chris Hudson, defending, said Leonard had not intended what happened.

He said it was a prank which went horribly wrong.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 10, 2007
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