Four men jailed after autistic man set on fire by colleagues

Left to right: Simon Hickinbottom, Adam Lavelle, Michael Jeffrey, Soldon Legdani Credit: Lancashire Police

Four men have been jailed after a vulnerable teenager was set on fire at a garage in Lancashire.

It happened on June 1st last year, when the young man, who has autism, was working as an apprentice at a garage in Wesham.

During his shift he was chased into the garage by the men, with an accelerant, ignited by a blow torch, aimed at his legs.

The shocking attack left him with burns to his upper thighs. After he alerted health workers to what was happening, police launched an investigation, which revealed he'd been the victim of a campaign of abuse and bullying.

CCTV footage seized from the garage showed three of the attackers chasing the victim around the unit. A fourth man leant against a door to prevent him from escaping the attack.

The offenders eventually stopped and could be seen laughing.

Earlier this month, four men pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Preston Crown Court.

  • Adam Lavelle, 34, of Walter Avenue, St Annes, was given 18 months in prison for S20 wounding

  • Michael Jeffrey, 31, of Seafield Road, Blackpool, was given 14 months in prison for S20 wounding

  • Soldon Legdani, 23, of Moss House Road, Blackpool, was given 10 months in prison for S20 wounding

  • Simon Hickinbottom, 45 of Knowles Road, St Annes, was given 21 weeks in prison for common assault and providing a false statement

Detective Constable Jordan McDonald, of Blackpool CID, said: “This was a horrendous attack which left the victim, a young man with autism, seriously injured.

“The men preyed upon his vulnerabilities, carrying out escalating threats which ultimately resulted in the victim being chased inside the locked garage, cornered by the offenders and set on fire, causing burns to his upper thighs.

“The bullying and abuse was revealed once the victim went for medical treatment, with the police then launching an investigation.

“While workplace bullying is unfortunately commonplace, the actions of these men went far beyond this. I am glad each of the men have received custodial sentences and can use their time to reflect on the gravity of their actions and the lasting impact it’s had on the victim.”