BUNGLING Amir Ali has put himself forward as a contender for Britain’s dumbest criminal of the year, after his attempt to burn down a pub turned into a comedy of errors.
Hapless Ali, 28, was caught red-handed on CCTV trying to petrol bomb a pub but had to dodge two bricks he hurled at the door when they bounced harmlessly back off the glass.
The bungling buffoon then stood rooted to the spot while a fellow thug lit a firebomb and hurled it at the door, but it again bounced back, and then blew up in Ali’s face.
After the bomb exploded around him in a fireball he fled off up the street temporarily blinded by the flash and ran straight into a lamppost bouncing back flat on his back.
Police who watched the CCTV footage admitted having fits of giggles as they saw him leap back up like a slapstick comedian before running off again following his sidekick.
To cap it all the father-of-two from Crouch End, North London, who had split his head open running into the lamppost and suffered singeing to his hair messed up yet again.
He wandered shakily into a medical drop in centre just round the corner for treatment where police picked him up within minutes, cuffed him and took him back to the nick.
Ali still had the plaster a nurse put on his head in full view when he had his mugshot taken in the cells.
He denied attempted arson but was jailed for eight years at Brighton Crown Court yesterday.
The licensee of the Imperial Arms in Crawley, Sussex, was woken by the banging below and ran downstairs to find the front door windows cracked and two bricks on the doorstep.
The petrol bomb was still smouldering after failing to ignite properly.
The first trial in June collapsed after police mislaid the vital CCTV evidence but Ali was convicted at a second trial in August and sentencing was adjourned for reports.
Sentencing him, Recorder John Hardy QC told him his offence was at the top end of the scale, despite the fact his ineptitude had thankfully meant it was doomed to failure.
He said: “You became embroiled in a calculated attack which was part of a campaign of violence and intimidation by local drug lords against the licensees of this pub.”
The court heard the landlord was sleeping upstairs when the “amateurish and comical” attack took place at 3.30am on May 28, 2008, and that it was all captured on CCTV.
Recorder Hardy said, “Had you succeeded and the pub had caught fire then damage to it and the neighbouring buildings would have been massive and the risk to life obvious.”
Detective Constable Craig Allan said afterwards, “This was a prolonged and difficult investigation during which the defendant consistently denied being responsible.
“However, gradually we were able to piece it all together and the sentence reflects the seriousness with which the courts take this kind of behaviour.”
The second man has not been identified and Sussex Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.
by John Jackson