The life of a taxi driver was put at risk when two men set fire to his car on a petrol station forecourt in Hythe. As a result, the men responsible have been jailed for more than five years each.
The driver collected Warren Hearne (left) and Danny Frost from Romney Marsh on Friday 15 December 2017 following their night out in the local area.
The pair got into the taxi and asked the man to stop at a nearby petrol station so they could buy some beer. The driver pulled into the garage in Seabrook Road, Hythe at around 11pm as requested but neither of his passengers went inside for beer.
Instead Hearne, 36, opened the back door of the taxi and started acting suspiciously. The incident was captured on CCTV, which showed Hearne loitering outside the taxi before stumbling into a petrol pump. He then took the pump and pointed it into the back seat of the car. A small amount of petrol was poured onto the seats before the driver realised what was happening and got out of the car. Moments later the seat was alight and both Hearne and his accomplice Frost, 27 ran away. The taxi went up in flames as the driver grabbed his belongings and fled to safety. Kent Fire and Rescue Service was called to the scene where the forecourt and road was closed whilst the fire was put out. The matter was also reported to Kent Police.
Hearne from Dymchurch Road in Hythe and Frost from Hever Gardens in Ashford were identified from the CCTV footage and arrested soon after the incident.
They both pleaded guilty to arson that was reckless and were sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 14 December 2018. Herne received six years and four months in prison. Frost was sentenced to five years and seven months.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Kay Brown said: “This was an extremely dangerous thing to do, which could have caused significant harm to anyone nearby at the time. Luckily the driver escaped the incident without injury but his vehicle, which is his livelihood, was destroyed in the fire. “There is no excuse for what they did and thankfully they will serve time in prison for this unprovoked and reckless attack on an innocent man. I hope this sentence will give them time to consider the consequences of their actions and make better choices in the future.”