AN ATTEMPTED arsonist has avoided jail for threatening to set light to a petrol station in Winchester.

On August 1 Alex Lloyd went to the Tesco petrol station in Andover Road and attempted to set light to his bag using a lighter.

He began shouting and swearing at members of staff and customers saying that he was ‘going to do it’ meaning set fire a petrol pump. Fortunately, after trying a number of times Lloyd failed to light the lighter, but he still threatened to “light the lot up”.

Winchester Crown Court heard on Thursday that if Lloyd, of Forder Court, had been successful in lighting his bag the petrol pumps would have had to have been turned off for fears of an explosion.

During Lloyd’s attempts a member of staff told him that “he didn’t want to die that day” and the 33-year-old stopped.

His tirade did not stop there as he also threw a glass bottle of cider nearly hitting a customer, threatened to blow himself up and said that his bag had a trip wire – which turned out not to be true.

The court was told that the incident occurred after Lloyd’s medication had been stolen and he has “no memory of this incident”.

Lloyd previously pleaded guilty to threatening to destroy or damage property. Two others counts of attempted arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered and attempted arson with intent to endanger life will lie on file.

In mitigation, Berenice Mulvanny said that Lloyd has been “his biggest demon”, adding: “When he is in a crisis all that rationale goes out the window and he is not able to think clearly about the services that he can access.”

The court was told that since Lloyd has been in custody he has improved, and his medication has been stabilised. He is now seeking support from community services.

“He is finally starting to think productively and constructively about how to manage his day in a more healthy way.”

The Recorder of Winchester, Judge Angela Morris handed Lloyd a 20-month sentence suspended for two years. He must also complete a drug rehabilitation requirement, 20 rehabilitation days and be on a curfew for 12 weeks between 9pm and 7am.

A restraining order was also imposed preventing Lloyd from going to the Tesco Express store for five years.

The judge said: “You have to help yourself you cannot blame others, you cannot always rely on others and change has to start with you,” adding: “This is your last chance Mr Lloyd, there won’t be any more after this.”

The judge ordered Lloyd to return to court on January 20 when an update will be given on his progress, she added: “I expect to see a glowing report, I expect to see more negative testing.”