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Tanker crash man admits charges

Tanker crash in Dorset Photo: PA

A man has admitted a string of offences after driving a fuel tanker into the front of his family's bungalow.

Hugh Billington pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered; assault by beating; dangerous driving and theft.

The lorry driver appeared wearing a grey suit with a striped red and grey tie at Dorchester Crown Court in Dorset, where he spoke only to enter his pleas.

Judge Roger Jarvis told Billington his "loss of liberty" was "inevitable".

The 51-year-old was arrested by police following the incident in Wool, Dorset, at the bungalow he and his wife Christine owned, on January 20.

The court heard Mrs Billington was in the bungalow's kitchen when the tanker, loaded with kerosene, crashed through the front of the house.

Mrs Billington, who is understood to run a dog-grooming business, escaped through a window to a neighbour's house, the court heard.

Billington denied a count of arson with intent to endanger life, which was accepted by the crown.

Tanker crash in Dorset Credit: PA

Jennie Rickman, prosecuting, said: "The oil tanker was driven from the depot along Folly Lane and into the house.

"The Crown say to drive a tanker of that size off road in the manner that it was and into the drive is dangerous.

"The pleas have been considered... they are accepted."

The court heard the assault was against Trevor Knott, although no details were given of the incident.

Billington also admitted he stole a boiler suit and a rugby shirt from Oliver Towers on the same day he drove the ERF tanker into the bungalow.

Speaking directly to Billington, Judge Jarvis said: "You have made admissions to some very serious matters, loss of liberty is inevitable."

The judge adjourned the case to obtain pre-sentence and psychiatric reports before sentencing on April 30.

Billington, who gave his address as no fixed abode, made no application for bail and was remanded in custody.

About 30 firefighters tackled the blaze at the couple's bungalow, which suffered "significant" damage in the blaze, police said at the time.

Pictures released by the fire service showed the tanker crashed into the front of the bungalow, having smashed through the front wall and a set of windows.

The front door of the bungalow was removed and the blaze was seen to have ripped through the house out towards the back garden.

A large red Watson Fuels tanker was backed away from the home, leaving tyre tracks across the front garden.