Dad doused himself in petrol and flicked lighter

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Staff reporter

A MAN threatened to burn his house down – then doused himself with petrol.

Mark Hanley, 47, poured petrol around one of the rooms and started flicking a cigarette lighter.

Fortunately, the lighter did not ignite and the first officer at the scene, acting sergeant Gareth Ferguson, went inside and was able to restrain Hanley and then arrest him.

Hanley, of Hancock’s Lane, Nant Mawr Road, Buckley, was originally charged with arson, being reckless as to whether life would be endangered but that charge was dropped when he admitted a affray and assaulting his wife.

At Mold Crown Court yesterday he received a 50-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was placed on supervision on condition he followed an alcohol treatment course. An order was also made that he is not to approach his wife and family.

“This is an extremely serious and worrying case,” Judge Niclas Parry told him.

“You acted in a way which was wholly disproportionate to the circumstances. You punched your wife when all she was trying to do was to stop you from dousing the house with petrol and setting it alight.”

The judge said there were genuine fears that he intended to kill that night. He had threatened to kill his wife in her sleep and she was terrified.

When police arrived there a strong smell of petrol and Hanley was flicking his lighter, and he was extremely lucky not to be facing a more serious charge.

But he had pleaded guilty. He was a man of good character and having read a psychiatric assessment it was clear he now had problems that had changed him from a doting father to someone who was in need of assistance.

Gareth Roberts, prosecuting, said Hanley and his wife Tracey had been married for 17 years and they had three children.

The relationship ended in December, 2008 but in 2009 he moved back in and they lived separate lives. As far as she was concerned the relationship was over and she was seeking a divorce. She was very concerned about his depression and alcohol intake.

On August 24 last year he returned home drunk. There was an argument and he tried to grab his wife by the throat. He told her she should sleep with one eye open or he would kill her.

Hanley went outside and then sent her a text message saying: “You had better get everyone out – at 10 o’clock I am going to burn the house down.”

In a second message he said: “You’ve got two minutes then I am going to the shed for petrol.”

She looked out and saw him with a can of petrol. He was angry and appeared to have “lost it”.

His wife told him to stop but he said he was going to set the house on fire. He said he had worked on it, had built the extension, and was was going to burn it down and sit in it while it burned.

Hanley went back into the house, went into his room and poured petrol over himself and the room and started flicking his lighter.

She had tried to get the can but he punched her on the nose causing it to bleed.

In a victim impact statement his wife told how depression had got a hold of him for the last couple of years and she had since been suffering nightmares.

Brian Treadwell, defending, said two psychiatric reports had been prepared on the defendant who would now go to live with his sister who had been very supportive.

See full story in the Leader

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