In a classic example of how Britain's most vunerable people are being treated by the Government, a man who doused himself with petrol and tried to set himself alight in a job centre after a dispute over benefits he was due has been jailed for 20 months. Stuart Jones had a grievance against the Department for Work and Pensions and went to the job centre with a can of petrol at about 2:45pm on 3 October, 2012.
Jones, 44, of Wrexham, but living in his car at the time, was owed £1,100 and told staff at the town's
job centre he would set himself on fire unless he got it.
He shouted: "I want my money," adding: "Nobody is listening to me. I am going to set myself on fire." The court heard that he held a lighter upside down and it failed to ignite. Staff raised the alarm and got blankets and a fire extinguisher as a precaution. Security staff calmed him down, police negotiators were called in, and he was in fact handed three cheques totalling £1,100 which, it was established, he was owed.
Stephen Edwards, defending, said that his client had physical issues following a motorcycle accident when he was young, and mental health issues, both of which entitled him to an enhanced disability allowance. He was desperate and had been to the Job Centre earlier to try and sort matters out, had enlisted the help of CAB which tried to help him, but he felt no one was listening and that he was being fobbed off.
Jones, who had no previous convictions, had previously worked as a welder and as a door supervisor, was unable to work because of his condition, was homeless and living out of his car, had to ask his mother for money and was desperate. But Mr Edwards said he wished to stress that his client did not wish to harm anyone else. “It was just himself,” he said. The defendant later told a psychiatrist that he did not regret what he had done. He had been handed £1,100 before he left the Job Centre after his protest. At Mold Crown Court on Thursday Jones was jailed for 20 months after he admitted threatening to destroy property and possessing articles intending to destroy property.