Homeless man jailed for dousing police officers in petrol and setting one on fire

Ellen Manning
·2 min read
Undated handout photo issued by Devon and Cornwall Police of Blagovest Hadjigueorguiev, 30, who has been jailed for more than 10 years at Truro Crown Court, after he doused two police officers with petrol before setting fire to one of them.
Blagovest Hadjigueorguiev, 30, was jailed for more than 10 years for dousing two police officers with petrol before setting fire to one of them. (PA)

A man who doused two police officers with petrol before setting fire to one has been jailed for more than 10 years.

Blagovest Hadjigueorguiev, 30, had been camping on Duchy of Cornwall land in Newquay, Cornwall, without permission for months and refused to leave despite being served with eviction notices.

But when police officers were called to help remove him and his belongings from the field in September, he picked up a cider bottle containing petrol and threw it at two officers, PC Darral Mares and PC Alan Lenton.

He then threw the rest on to his camp fire, causing flames to “explode” over 51-year-old PC Mares, Truro Crown Court heard, leaving him with burns to his hands and legs.

Hadjigueorguiev admitted charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to PC Mares and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent to PC Lenton.

Undated handout photo issued by Devon and Cornwall Police of PC Al Lenton who was issued a commendation by Judge Robert Linford at Truro Crown Court, after he went to the aid of his colleague Pc Darral Mares when Blagovest Hadjigueorguiev, 30, who was jailed for more than 10 years at the court, had thrown petrol over both of them and had set Pc Mares alight.
PC Al Lenton was issued with a commendation by Judge Robert Linford at Truro Crown Court for helping colleague PC Darral Mares when he was set alight. (PA)

Branding it a “wicked” attack, a judge handed him concurrent sentences of 10 years and six months for the attack on PC Mares and six years for the attempted attack on PC Lenton.

Describing the moment PC Mares was set on fire, Judge Robert Linford said: “It was a sickening thing to see and hear him burnt. He tried to extinguish the flames that in particular burnt his hands and his legs.

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“It was a wicked, deliberate and extremely violent act, directed at a man who had previously tried to help you.”

He also issued a commendation to PC Lenton, who immediately went to his colleague’s aid despite being soaked in petrol himself and rolled him on the ground to extinguish the flames.

In a personal statement PC Mares – who had been due to retire from the police force in less than a year – described undergoing “excruciatingly painful” treatment in hospital for his burns. He is still on medication.

Piers Norsworthy, representing Hadjigueorguiev, said the man didn’t understand the concept of Duchy land and felt he was entitled to use the area of the field, adding: “He just wanted to be left alone.”

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