Racist pours petrol on neighbour before setting off fireworks
Charles Gilbert admitted racially aggravated assault against Polish national Piotr Knap
A racist neighbour poured petrol over the Polish man next door, terrifying him and his wife before lighting a match.
Charles Gilbert, 54, had taken against the young couple from the moment they moved in, Cardiff Crown Court was told.
He splashed the fuel from a jerry can all over Piotr Knap, drenching him, then set off fireworks as the terrified victim watched, shaking from a window.
“That was part and parcel of the terror” Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told Gilbert as he jailed him for 16 months.
“If one of those fireworks had gone off near a man doused in petrol, he would have burst into flames.”
Prosecutor Gareth James said the petrol had gone into Mr Knap’s eyes, burning them but that was nothing to the emotional suffering of both he and his wife Marzena.
“They had only just bought their house but now want to move” he told the court.
“It was a terrifying experience which has greatly affected their quality of life in their own home”.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Knap said he just couldn’t get his head round the fact that a neighbour could behave in such a way.
“It comes back to me every time I fill up my car and smell the petrol”.
He and his wife lost several days work immediately after the incident and Mrs Knap described being so frightened she was unable to sleep.
She suffered nightmares thinking her husband could have been killed and had to cancel driving lessons she had booked because her health suffered.
Gilbert of Rumney, Cardiff, initially denied the incident but later admitted a racially aggravated common assault.
His lawyer Huw Bowden said he had a problem with alcohol abuse and other issues which made him unable to tolerate noise or other people.
“He seems he took an instant dislike to his new neighbours and accepts it was racial but he would probably have felt the same towards anyone moving in because of his underlying problems.”
Gilbert had made previous court appearances going back to 2003 when he was convicted of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear.
In 2009 he was sentenced for harassment.
A restraining order was put in place banning Gilbert from contacting the couple for 10 years.