Petrol company fined after selling fuel to arsonist in drinks bottle at Ipswich station
PUBLISHED: 18:51 06 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:25 06 March 2020
An oil company in charge of an Ipswich filling station has been fined after selling petrol dispensed into a plastic drinks bottle by a woman who used it in an arson attack.
The Petrogas group, which runs the Applegreen chain of petrol stations, was fined £60,000 for allowing Fiona Foster to dispense petrol into a prohibited container and failing to provide an employee with sufficient training on precautions to be taken around a dangerous substance.
At Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Friday, March 6, the company pleaded guilty to charges of selling petrol in an unsuitable container and failing to adequately train a staff member in the lawful sale of petrol.
The charges related to the sale of petrol to Fiona Foster at their Woodbridge Road station on May 13 last year.
Foster, 34, of Old Foundry Road, Ipswich, was sentenced to a 10 years in a secure hospital last December for attempted murder and arson after setting fire to a flat in Fitzgerald Court that same day.
Although these consequences were not taken into account in the verdict, the court heard the public had been "put at risk" by the sale.
A woman in her 30s suffered serious burns to her hands, back and throat during the incident - injuries so severe she had to be placed in an induced coma while she recovered.
She was treated at Ipswich Hospital, Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, and the specialist burns unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital over six weeks.
Foster, who admitted attempted murder and arson with intent or recklessness as to whether life was endangered, will be transferred to a prison when medical treatment is no longer deemed necessary.
Detective Sergeant Mark Hughes, from Ipswich CID, said the vulnerable victim, who was known to Foster, sustained 22% burns to her body and was very fortunate to have escaped with her life.
Suffolk Trading Standards, who brought the case to court, said petrol must only be sold in suitable containers clearly labelled with the words "petrol" and "highly flammable".
A spokesman for the organisation said: "Petrogas UK Ltd failed to do this at their premises on Woodbridge Road, breaching health and safety standards. We will continue to work with businesses to ensure petrol is stored and handled safely, but we will take action when we need to." Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment and public protection at Suffolk County Council, added: "Our Trading Standards officers regularly work alongside local businesses, giving them advice and information to operate safely. But we will prosecute when necessary, in order to protect the public.
"This successful prosecution shows the variety of work which our officers carry out every day, to keep us all safe. If you ever have concerns about a potential scam, faulty product or poor service, I encourage you to report it."
Such activity can be reported to the national Citizens Advice service on 0808 223 1133.