A father-of-four who attempted to petrol bomb a Burnley family home in a terrifying revenge attack - and set himself on fire with the Molotov cocktail – has been jailed for six years.
Paul Simpson (33) had hurled the flaming fire bomb at the house where just before the attack three children were inside.
He had threatened the father, who he alleged had previously chased him with a machete, the town’s crown court was told.
Simpson went to the property armed with two petrol bombs, although one, which appeared unlit, missed the house.
The burning bomb smashed against the wall at the front of the house and started a small fire just to the left of the door.
The youngsters were left distraught over the incident.
Simpson, who has almost 80 offences on his record, was jailed for six years and given three years’ extended licence, after a judge ruled he was a dangerous offender.
The defendant, of Cog Lane, Burnley, had admitted arson with intent to endanger the lives of the two adults living at the property.
He was also made subject to a five year restraining order, to keep him away from the victims, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
Francis McEntee (prosecuting) said the defendant dropped one of the bottles, the one which didn’t appear to her to be lit.
This was thrown with no effect, falling short of the target.
Simpson then threw the lit fire bomb towards the front of the house.
Mr McEntee said: “It’s clear in his efforts to do so the defendant himself caught light and there is evidence of his T-shirt and his hair burning. The defendant pulled his T- shirt off and was desperately trying to pat his head down whilst still on fire.”
The hearing was told the petrol bomb smashed against a wall at the front of the house, there was a small blaze and minimal damage was caused.
Mr Robert Elias (defending) said whatever his faults, he was cherished and loved by his family.
He added: “This is a step into the dark by this defendant. He has not quite got his head around the seriousness of it.
“It is, of course, completely unacceptable to take the law into your own hands and to do what this defendant rather incompetently tried to do.
“As it happened, the only person he hurt was himself as he set fire to himself because the petrol came out of the glass receptacle over his clothing.
“That doesn’t detract from the fear they would have felt in this house.”
Simpson’s muddled thinking was that he had been attacked and provoked and he chose to respond in an horrendous and frightening way. His behaviour had been stupid.
Mr Elias said: “He was at his wits’ end and his wits perhaps are not the greatest wits in the world.
“He is an inadequate sort of individual.”
Judge Beverley Lunt said: “You have accepted you did intend to endanger the lives of the two adults. There is no evidence to suggest you knew there were children in the house.”
The judge went on: “Whatever the previous history may have been you have always accepted that you were not in danger from him at the time when you threw this lighted bottle of petrol at his house.
“It was clearly a revenge attack for other things that had occurred, but they were not matters that would have ever given rise to such a drastic response from any right-thinking person.”
“The consequences could have been catastrophic. There were young children in this house, upstairs.
“Fortunately for you and for everybody, nobody was hurt by this except for yourself.”