Man threatened to set himself on fire

A SUFFOLK man doused himself in petrol and threatened to set light to himself after an argument with his girlfriend, a court has heard.

Jane Hunt

A SUFFOLK man doused himself in petrol and threatened to set light to himself after an argument with his girlfriend, a court has heard.

Jonathan Harpley, 30, poured petrol over himself and a garden shed at his girlfriend's home in Cumberland Avenue, Bury St Edmunds and then sat smoking a cigarette in the shed, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

At one stage he had used the cigarette to light another and had then stubbed out the first cigarette on his leg and thrown it on the floor.

Harpley was also seen rocking a container of fuel with his foot causing the contents to slosh out and flicking a cigarette lighter.

Police were called to the scene and at one stage officers heard the sound of gas after Harpley turned on a cylinder in the shed, said Michael Crimp, prosecuting.

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During the incident police officers made arrangements for five neighbouring houses to be evacuated and a fire engine was also called to the scene.

Harpley was also heard to issue threats including “I'm going to do it” before emerging from the shed and announcing he wanted to go home.

He was carrying a container of fuel which he poured over his head and as he walked away from the shed he told officers: “If you come near me I'll take you with me”. He had a lighter in his hand, the court heard.

Fearing he was going to set light to himself, police moved in and arrested him.

Harpley, of Mitchell Avenue, Bury St Edmunds admitted affray and was jailed for 12 months with an extended licence period of 18 months.

The court heard that in 2003 Harpley had been ordered to do 200 hours community service for another offence of affray which happened when he lost his temper with firemen who went to his home because of concern about a bonfire in his garden.

Harpley had threatened to get a gun and shoot the firemen and had then kicked a fireman's leg.

He had then picked up a hammer and was eventually restrained by four firemen after he picked up a metal post.

John Morgans, for Harpley, said his client had spent 33 days in custody and had found the experience “terrifying”.

He was determined to make the most of his time in custody and had benefited by not being able to drink alcohol.

Mr Morgans said Harpley had the support of his family and felt genuine remorse for the way he had behaved. While in custody Harpley's heart had stopped beating and he was undergoing medical tests, he added.

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