Belfast Telegraph

Horror as man douses himself with petrol at Dungannon's Newell Stores

Newell Stores in Dungannon, the scene of yesterday’s incident
Newell Stores in Dungannon, the scene of yesterday’s incident

By Annamay McNally

Emergency crews were sent to a Co Tyrone supermarket after a man doused himself in petrol on the filling station forecourt.

The incident took place outside Newell Stores in Dungannon yesterday morning.

One eyewitness described how police pursued the man, understood to be a Polish national, on foot for a short distance before he was apprehended and taken to hospital.

The incident unfolded around 8.30am at New Well Road.

The PSNI, Ambulance Service and the Fire and Rescue Service were sent to the scene.

Police praised members of the public who alerted the emergency services, as well as management and staff at the supermarket for switching off the fuel pumps.

One eyewitness said: "I was there at about 8.30am and I normally park near the pumps, but a member of the public directed me away from them and told me a man had doused himself in petrol and that they were waiting on the police to come.

"I parked up quickly and could see the man, who wasn't wearing any shoes, and the nozzles from the pumps, two or three of them at least, were lying on the ground.

"This man had apparently doused himself in petrol and was threatening to set himself on fire.

"He was on the phone, ranting and raving, and nobody was going near him for fear of what might happen.

"If there was petrol on the ground, or the man had a match or lighter with him, it doesn't bear thinking what could have happened.

"There could have been a major incident, although at that time there was no real sense of panic amongst the bystanders. People seemed more curious than anything.

"Within a few minutes two police cars came flying in and the man took off on foot but he was quickly caught by the police officers.

"After that, two fire engines arrived and an ambulance, but it was over quickly enough.

"I don't know how serious this guy was about what he threatened to do, but the fuel nozzles were definitely off so the staff and emergency services couldn't take any chances, I suppose."

The PSNI said: "Police responded to reports of a distressed male on the forecourt of a supermarket petrol station in Dungannon at around 8.30am this morning. The man was detained and has been taken to hospital for treatment.

"I would like to thank the members of the public who called the emergency services, and particularly the management and staff at the supermarket for the steps they took to minimise risk to the public, including switching off the pumps.

"Your contribution to ensuring this incident was remedied safely is much appreciated."

Staff at the store declined to comment. Dungannon SDLP councillor Denise Mullen described the incident as "shocking" and called for better mental health provision.

"What happened here was traumatic and terrifying for the staff and customers who were there at the time," she said.

"There is an urgent need for better mental health provision, particularly some kind of emergency contact for people in urgent need."

If you are affected by any issues in this article, contact the Samaritans free on 116 123 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000.

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