Shocking moment officers doused in fuel as crowd yells ‘Light them up’

This is the shocking moment when eight police officers in Essex were doused in petrol as a crowd of onlookers yelled: “Light them up”.

Essex Police officers had been monitoring an event on Canvey Island in May last year, when they received reports of a motorbike being driven dangerously.

After a car chase of several miles, they arrested the driver, close to the Somercotes estate in Basildon.

Crowds then started to gather around, with one woman threatening the officers with a hammer, before a man threw petrol over them.

Two officers were hospitalised after ingesting fuel.

The ordeal was captured in an episode of the BBC documentary, Critical Incident, which aired on Monday night.

Chief Inspector Jonathan Baldwin told the programme: “One match, one lighter, one spark could result in us going up in flames and being disfigured for life or possibly even dead.”

Justin Jackson, 28, who threw the petrol over the officers, was jailed for three years and nine months.

A 17-year-old was also fined for dangerous driving and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

PC Andrew Bird said the officers were used to people “shouting and swearing and telling us that we’re idiots”, but had never experienced anything similar before.

He described seeing a man appear from an alleyway and begin sprinting towards the team as they made their arrest.

The officers tried to intercept him, falling to the ground as they collided, just as another man appeared with a watering can.

PC Bird continued: “I was pretty much at the bottom of the pile. You’ve got officers trying to get him off of me. He had his arms wrapped round my legs trying to keep hold of me.

“It was as I was trying to control this gentleman who had run out of the middle of nowhere that this other chap has appeared with a watering can.

“The officers didn’t know what was in watering can at first, but feared it could be acid.”

Meanwhile, PC Matthew Cutts said he could feel his skin stinging down the front of his body.

He said: ‘I could smell petrol, so I sort of fumbled around to get my baton out, but once I’ve got it I’ve put it behind my head and just struck him in line with my training.”

After realising the liquid was fuel, the officers were acutely aware of how vulnerable they were to any open flame or even sparks from their Tasers.

In the surrounding crowd, they could hear people shouting “who’s got matches” and “light them up”.

Eventually, around 90 officers arrived at the scene and fire services hosed the petrol off the men.

Several people were arrested for their involvement in the incident.

Janine Justin, 47, was also found guilty of possession of an offensive weapon and sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Shannon Jackson, 20, was charged with obstructing a constable in the execution of their duty, but the case was later dismissed.

PC Bird said it was now “impossible” for him to drive past the scene without thinking about what happened and experiencing flashbacks.