Petrol Threat Drama at Skegness Benefits Office
A MAN walked into Skegness Benefits Office with a can of petrol and a cigarette lighter and later threatened to kill himself, magistrates heard.
His behaviour was a cry for help, his solicitor told the court.
Stephen Maurice Ride, 43, of Revesby Corner, Mareham-le-Fen, admitted behaving with intent to cause staff at the benefits office harassment, alarm or distress.
Skegness magistrates adjourned the case to August 4th for pre-sentence reports to be prepared. Ride was remanded on bail.
Mr Nick Wyman, prosecuting, said that the offence resulted from an incident at the Skegness Benefits Office at 1.30pm on July 3rd.
Ride had walked into the benefits office that afternoon and positioned himself in the centre of the main customer area between two booths where staff interview clients.
He was carrying a red petrol can and a cigarette lighter, and he opened the petrol can, and held the lighter to the spout, said Mr Wyman.
Ride then instructed everyone in the building to leave the premises and members of the public and staff did so, said Mr Wyman.
The police were informed and five officers went to the scene and spoke to Ride. He told them that he did not want to hurt anyone but that he intended to kill himself, said Mr Wyman.
The man was diagnosed as suffering from a crumbling spine. It was an ongoing condition that was getting worse.
Ride had been granted incapacity benefit, income support and disability living allowance, said Mr Khanna.
Ride’s benefits were subject to regular reviews and in February 1997 the Department of Social Security had decided that he was fit and available for work and should sign off.
Ride could not believe the decision, said Mr Khanna. For three-and-a-half years he had suffered. He telephoned the DSS to ask what he could do and was advised to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance.
Ride said that if he did that he would be making fraudulent claims because to claim Job Seekers Allowance you had to be fit and available for work and actively seeking work.
Some days he was unable to get up because he was in too much pain, said Mr Khanna.
Ride felt that no one was prepared to do anything to help him, said Mr Khanna.
“He thought about the years of pain he had suffered and for a short while he could find no reason to live,” he said.
He got into his car and drove to the benefits office as if by remote control, said Mr Khanna.
Ride walked into the office with a can of petrol and a lighter. His intention was only to harm himself and no one else and he asked staff to clear the area.
The police arrived and Ride did not want anyone else to be in danger and so handed over the can and the lighter, said Mr Khanna.
Ride was seen by a doctor and by that time he was feeling back to normal, said Mr Khanna.
The doctor said that Ride was not depressed or suicidal.
Ride was very ashamed and could not believe what he had done. He had acted out of some sort of anger, said Mr Khanna.
He was now very embarrassed, sorry and shocked. He had never been in trouble before and had always been an upstanding member of the community.
It had been more of a symbolic gesture or cry for help because no one had been prepared to do anything for him, said Mr Khanna.
It was the set of circumstances which had pushed him over the edge on that occasion , said Mr Khanna.
Source: Skegness Standard 1997