A MAN who tried to set fire to a petrol station jailed for four years for attempted arson.

Newport Crown Court heard how the actions of John Bailey, who is "nervous" around fire after suffering burns as a teenager could have been “absolutely catastrophic” after he waved petrol pump nozzles around with a lighter in his hand at St David’s petrol station, New Road, Pengam, during the early hours of August 25.

Bailey, 37, of Britannia Road, Blackwood, who had previously pleaded guilty to attempted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, told police he had been drinking that night and could not recall the incident and was shocked by CCTV images shown to him following the incident.

Prosecuting, Gareth James said the defendant had gone to the garage at around 3.15am and had bought some items including a fizzy drink and crisps.

An attendant at the garage, named in court as Mr Perera, said the defendant was drunk and seemed agitated.

He said a vehicle then arrived with four men inside and the defendant was seen kicking out towards the car.

Mr Perera said Bailey then picked up a petrol pump nozzle and started waving it in the air and that he could heard the defendant shouting ‘authorise’.

He then walked to two other pumps and repeated the action.

The garage attendant said he could see a lighter in Bailey’s hand before the defendant went and got a wooden pallet which he then put a nozzle to and was trying to get fuel out of it. Mr Perera then saw the lighter was lit.

A woman was then seen talking with Bailey before he began to leave. Police arrived and Bailey was arrested.

In interview, the defendant said he had gone out that evening and drank a lot of alcohol and couldn’t recall any of the incident.

He said he may have thought the four men in the car were trying to commit robbery but he knew what he had done was completely wrong and said he was not a violent person.

Mr James said Bailey said he couldn’t explain the incident as when he was around 16 years of age he had suffered burns to his hand which had required skin grafts and that fire now made him "nervous"

He said Bailey , who has 29 convictions for 69 offences including theft, burglary and being drunk and disorderly, was deeply sorry and wanting to send a letter to the garage.

Representing the defendant, Andrew Morse said that when Bailey had been shown the CCTV after the incident, he was “mortified” and “extremely apologetic”

Judge Philip Richards said: "I agree with the report that the potential for serious harm cannot be understated. One can only just begin to imagine what might have happened if you had been successful in lighting the petrol.”

He added: “The consequences of your actions could have been absolutely catastrophic.”

Bailey was also ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge.