A man caught on CCTV trying to set himself alight at a gas station and just moments away from causing a “catastrophic” fire has been jailed.
Willmantas Zuikis, 40, who was reportedly having marital problems and was depressed, tried to ignite the fuel by clicking a cigarette lighter at a gas station pump last August. He was stopped when an “on the ball” cashier realized what he was doing and did not turn the pump on.
Jeremy Evans, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that Zuikis went to a gas station under the influence of alcohol. When the cashier refused to serve him alcohol, Zuikis ordered a coffee instead and said “I’ll be back,” according to the Grimsby Telegraph.
He then returned soon after, when the cashier saw him “fiddling” and “messing about” with the gas pumps. Zuikis repeatedly tried to ignite the fuel with a cigarette lighter, the court heard.
“Quick-thinking” staff immediately deactivated the pump and averted a “far more serious incident.”
Paul Norton, defending, said Zuikis had been drinking and “took temporary leave of his senses” because of stress from the breakup of his 20-year marriage.
The court heard he had moderated his drinking and was now in a new relationship.
Zuikis has been jailed for 16 months due to his “spectacularly risky behavior” which could have had “catastrophic consequences.”
Judge Mark Bury said it would have been “spectacularly serious” if fuel had been dispensed from the pump. He said Zuikis would have been engulfed in flames and the life of the cashier would have been in serious danger.
“You were in a low mood because of your matrimonial difficulties. You tried more than once to obtain fuel from the unleaded pump to set fire to it. Had that been successful, you would not be here. The risk of danger to life was obvious.
“This was particularly risky behavior on your part, which could also have had catastrophic consequences, not only for you but also [the cashier].”