A man has been jailed for four years after endangering lives by crashing his van into his former wife’s home and trying to set fire to gas cylinders.
Peter Langley Dixon, 53, of Frank Place, North Shields, pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to criminal damage being reckless to endanger life, attempted arson being reckless to endanger life, driving with excess alcohol and breaching a non-molestation order.
The court heard that on October 3 last year, at approximately 6.19pm Langley drove his Ford Transit van into several cars in Frank Place, before driving off.
A short time later, he arrived at his ex-wife’s home in Sedbergh Road, Cullercoats, breaching the order.
Dixon deliberately crashed his van into the attached garage and when police arrived they found him locked inside the van. Officers saw the main gas meter for the property was loose and gas cylinders inside the van were leaking while Dixon was smoking a cigarette with the van’s engine still running.
Officers smashed their way into the van, turned the ignition off and threw the lit cigarettes away.
Dixon tried to spark a lighter but officers dragged him outside and arrested him.
The fire service and gas engineers were called to make the area safe.
Superintendent Mick Paterson said: “This was a most unusual case which could easily have led to loss of life.
“The officers who attended this incident acted very bravely, when entering the van they were aware of the smell of escaping gas and put their own lives at risk to save the life of another.
“Their actions were brave in the best tradition of the police service and clearly prevented further harm. If the gas cylinders had ignited there could have been a number of fatalities.
“Fortunately incidents of this nature are rare and we hope the family of Mr Dixon can now begin to put all this behind them and move forward.”