Four men jailed after ‘vulnerable colleague’ set on fire with blow torch at garage in Wesham

Four men have been jailed after a “vulnerable colleague” was set on fire at a garage in Wesham.

By Sean Gleaves
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 12:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 2:23 pm

The victim, aged in his teens, was working as an apprentice at a garage off Weeton Road on June 1, 2021.

During his shift, the teenager – who has autism – was chased into the garage by several men armed with an accelerant.

The men then ignited the accelerant with a blow torch that was aimed at the victim’s legs.

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Adam Lavelle (pictured, top left), Michael Jeffrey (top right), Soldon Legdani (bottom left), Simon Hickinbottom (bottom right). (Credit: Lancashire Police)

The victim suffered burns to his upper thighs and later attended a health centre where he told health workers what happened.

An investigation was launched and subsequently revealed the victim had suffered increasing abuse and bullying before the attack.

DC 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.”

Detectives investigating the offence seized CCTV footage from the garage.

The video showed three of the attackers chasing the victim around the unit, aiming the blow torch and accelerant towards the victim.

A fourth man leant against a door to prevent the victim escaping the attack.

The offenders eventually stopped and could be seen laughing, having left the victim in pain, police said.

Officers interviewed the men, who were later given summons to appear at court.

The group pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Thursday (May 12):

- 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.

“While workplace bullying is unfortunately commonplace, the actions of these men went far beyond this,” DC Jordan McDonald added.

“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.”