Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The bungling petrol bomber who tried to burn down a pub... and then ran into a lamp post

A bungling petrol bomber who was caught by police after he ran into a lamp post was today jailed for eight years.

Amir Ali, 28, and another unidentified man attempted to fire bomb the Imperial Arms pub in Crawley, West Sussex, in the early hours of May 28, 2008.

People were sleeping inside the property at the time.

Father-of-two Ali threw two bricks, breaking a window.

The other man then threw the petrol bomb, which accidentally hit Ali and burst into flames.

The flames died away almost immediately, but the panicked pair had already fled.

Ali then sprinted straight into a lamp post, hitting his head and falling to the ground.

In CCTV footage of the incident, he can be seen limping off.

He then went to the Crawley walk-in medical centre for treatment to his head injury and was linked to the attack by investigating officers.

Ali, of Crouch End, north London, denied the offence but forensic and CCTV evidence helped bring him to justice.

The landlord of the pub was woken by banging noises at 3.30am and came downstairs to find the front door had been smashed.

Two bricks and the remains of the petrol bomb that had failed to ignite were lying on the ground outside.

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Caught in the act: Wearing a grey tracksuit, Amir Ali throws a rock at the window of the Imperial pub in Crawley, West Sussex, as his accomplice prepares to throw a petrol bomb

Alit was found guilty of attempting to, without lawful excuse, damage by fire the pub in August.
He was jailed for eight years imprisonment at Brighton Crown Court yesterday.

Recorder John Hardy QC told Ali his offence was at the top end of the scale, despite the fact his ineptitude had thankfully meant it was doomed to failure.

He said: 'On that day, for whatever reason, you became embroiled in a planned and calculated attack which was part of a campaign of violence and intimidation by the local drug lords in Crawley against the licensees of this pub.'

The attack was described as 'amateurish and comical' by prosecutors.

Recorder Hardy said: 'Had you succeeded and the pub had caught fire, damage to it and the neighbouring buildings would have been massive and the risk to life obvious.'

After sentencing Detective Constable Craig Allan said: 'This was a prolonged and difficult investigation during which the defendant consistently denied being responsible.

'However, gradually we were able to piece it all together.

'Today's sentence reflects the seriousness with which the courts take this kind of behaviour.'

The second man has not been identified and Sussex Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

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