Homeless man jailed for setting fire to police officer in Newquay

Two officers were called to help with an eviction in Newquay. Credit: Cornwall Live

A homeless man has been jailed for ten and a half years for setting fire to a police officer who was attempting to move him on from a field in Newquay.

Blagovest Hadjigueorguiev, aged 30, was camping on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall in September when PC Darral Mares, and his colleague PC Alan Lenton, attended to help bailiffs to evict him.

Hadjigueorguiev threatened to attack the officers, doused them both in petrol and set fire to PC Mares - who was engulfed in a fireball and suffered serious burns.

PC Darral Mares suffered serious burns in the attack.

He pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent against PC Lenton, who was not hurt.

Describing PC Mares' injuries, prosecutor Mary McCarthy said: "The main burn areas were to his inner thighs and his left hand.

"These were treated in hospital and later he was sent home. He was in excruciating pain, he was incapacitated for four weeks and then used a wheelchair.

The attack took place in Newquay in September. Credit: Cornwall Live

"He continues to attend the burns unit and has sought professional support for his mental health.

"This has had a tremendous impact on him, less than a year before his retirement he still struggles to come to terms with what happened."

Emergency services at the scene. Credit: Cornwall Live

She said PC Lenton also suffers from "profound psychological effects", adding "he constantly replies the incident in his mind and describes it as a cowardly and unprovoked attack."

Piers Norsworthy, mitigating for Hadjigueorguiev, said: "He felt trapped, he had nowhere to go, he just wanted to be left alone. He believed he had every right to protect his property and he believed he was acting lawfully.

He felt a deep sense of despair at the prospect of his belongings being taken away from him. He wishes to offer his sincere apologies. His behaviour cannot be condoned in any way.

Piers Norsworthy

Judge Robert Linford said: "You threatened to burn the police if they sought to arrest you. You were angry and unreasonable and threatened to set them on fire. That is then precisely what you did. It was a wicked, deliberate and extremely violent act directed at a man who had previously sought to help you."

The judge praised PC Lenton for the "brave and selfless act" of rolling his colleague on the ground to extinguish the flames.

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