Preston modern day highwayman jailed after petrol station terror in which he held lighter to fuel nozzle

A bungling criminal who held a lighter to the nozzle of a petrol pump in front of shocked staff and members of public has been jailed for two years.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 9:52 am

The terrifying incident unfolded at the Shell filling station on Bluebell Way, Fulwood, after modern day highwayman Rinor Salihu, 24, had confronted Parcelforce driver Maciej Blichowski, pulling up to his van in a BMW and demanding to get in.

Preston's Sessions House Court heard Salihu, who was born in Kosovo, pulled up in a BMW and confronted the frightened parcel driver on Teil Green, Fulwood, at around 1pm on March 7, telling him: "Please open the door, I need to change my life."

Mr Blichowski managed to get away, but was then pursued as cocaine-addled Salihu, who kept deliberately trying to swerve in front of his van to block his path on Longsands Lane, and mounted the pavement, striking a set of traffic lights, to get ahead of him.

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Sessions House

Prosecuting, Charlie Brown said: " He was frightened both by his attitude and persistence, but managed to drive away and decided he would head to the Bluebell Way petrol station as a place of safety and refuge.

"When he got to the petrol station, Mr Blichowski pulled in close to one of the pumps and went into the shop shouting for them to call police.

"The defendant followed. Inside the shop the defendant was still demanding the keys and there was a bit of a scuffle inside the shop.

"The defendant went outside to the forecourt, took a fire extinguisher and attempted to smash his way through the driver's window.

"Members of public assisted in restraining the defendant and he was put on the ground."

But afterwards, he got up and took the nozzle and was " threatening in effect to set everyone on fire".

The court heard the driver feared he would be killed as he was too close to the pump to run away in time, but staff managed to turn off the pumps.

Salihu, of Golbourne Street, Preston admits affray and dangerous driving.

Charges of attempted robbery and attempted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered were ordered to lie on the file.

Amanda Johnson, defending, accepted it was a "prolonged and very concerning incident" but said he was using cocaine heavily at the time and suffering mental health problems.

His father, who attended court, referred him to a private psychotherapist but he stopped the sessions, coinciding with the offence.

Jailing him for two years and imposing a three year ban and extended retest, Judge Graham Knowles QC said: " There were two very serious, quite separate risks that your crimes brought about.

"The first was the risk to people on the roads and indeed the pavement.

"That kind of aggressive and frankly life threatening driving always calls for significant punishment.

"At the petrol station not only was there your aggressive and violent and troubling conduct, you then took up a nozzle and had a lighter in your hand.

"The fear, a fear I've no doubt was intended, was that the whole place would blow up, and was no doubt terrifying."

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