AN ARSONIST torched the car of an 18-year-old while the teen was still inside after mistaking him for a love rival.
Chad Dendy, 22, poured petrol over Tom Withey’s second-hand BMW as the younger man was sitting in his car with friends flanking him in their vehicles.
Just 39 minutes before Dendy emptied an entire petrol can over the BMW and struck a match he had been ditched by his girlfriend.
Dendy – who feared she had been cheating on him – sent her an abusive message on Facebook before messaging Mr Withey wrongly accusing him of ‘worming on’ the girl.
In fact, Mr Withey and the woman had been pals for 10 years, the court heard.
Now Dendy, of Drake Close, Locks Heath, has been jailed for three years. He pleaded guilty to arson reckless whether life endangered over fire on June 12 at Locks Heath Shopping Village car park.
Janice Brennan, prosecuting told the court: ‘This was a deliberate act by Dendy on a person who he believed to be responsible for the break down of his relationship with his girlfriend.’
Miss Brennan added: ‘Mr Withey saw the defendant drive into the car park.
‘Dendy parked his vehicle and just stared in the direction of Mr Withey.
‘Shortly after the defendant drove at speed to behind Mr Withey’s car. He got out, and removed a petrol can that he had just filled with petrol at the garage.
‘The defendant walked over to Mr Withey’s car and he’s described as having a smug look on his face.
‘The defendant then poured the entire can of petrol over the roof and boot of Mr Withey’s BMW and shook the can to ensure it was empty.
‘Dendy then removed a lighter, lit it and threw it on the roof, and, of course, the vehicle immediately burst into flames.’
The prosecutor said the teen fled but had been trapped.
Mr Withey escaped with some burns after his clothes caught fire and he had to roll on the ground to put them out.
The victim’s three pals, in two cars, reversed to escape, fearing the fire could spread.
It took firefighters 20 minutes to put out the blaze.
Dendy told police he only meant to scare the teenager.
‘He admitted he had been in a rage so he did not notice anybody else, he was very angry and messed-up emotionally,’ Miss Brennan said.
Judge Anne Arnold said it was a ‘tragic case’ and Dendy was ‘fired up’.
The judge added Mr Withey’s injuries had been ‘remarkably light’ by luck but his psychological scars would stay with him forever.
Graham Gilbert, mitigating, said Dendy had problems at home, had discovered he was being paid unfairly, and was ‘devoted’ to his partner.
‘It’s a young man lashing out in a deeply inappropriate way,’ he said.
Dendy, whose family wept in the public gallery as he was jailed, had handed himself in to police and admitted what he did. A charge of arson with intent to endanger life was dropped as prosecutors offered no evidence.