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“A horrendous attack”: Four men jailed for lighting an autistic teen apprentice on fire with a blowtorch

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WESHAM, UK – Terrorizing vulnerable people is a pastime of bullies everywhere, apparently, as evidenced by a shocking case out of the U.K. Thankfully, the young man, who is autistic, is seeing justice served as the four mechanics who set him on fire have been jailed.

The attack at a garage in Wesham, Lancashire, North West England, occurred on June 1, 2021, when the unidentified young man was working as an apprentice.

Detective Constable Jordan McDonald, of Blackpool CID, said:

“This was a horrendous attack which left the victim, a young man with autism, seriously injured.”

According to police, he was chased into the garage by the men with a blowtorch, ignited by an accelerant, aimed at his legs.

The attack left him with burns to his upper thighs. He later went to a clinic, where he told healthcare workers what had happened to him. Police were alerted and an investigation was launched. The probe revealed he had been the victim of a campaign of abuse and bullying that escalated to the attack in which he was burned.

Surveillance footage seized from the garage showed three of the attackers chasing the victim around the unit. A fourth man leaned against a door to prevent the teenager from escaping the attack.

The offenders eventually stopped and could be seen laughing, according to police.

Earlier this month, the four men pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Preston Crown Court. They are:

  • Adam Lavelle, 34, of Walter Avenue, St Annes, who was given 18 months in prison for S20 wounding.

  • Michael Jeffrey, 31, of Seafield Road, Blackpool, who was given 14 months in prison for S20 wounding.

  • Soldon Legdani, 23, of Moss House Road, Blackpool, who was given 10 months in prison for S20 wounding.

  • Simon Hickinbottom, 45 of Knowles Road, St Annes, who was given 21 weeks in prison for common assault and providing a false statement.

McDonald said of the four:

“The men preyed upon his vulnerabilities, carrying out escalating threats which ultimately resulted in the victim being chased inside the locked garage, cornered by the offenders and set on fire, causing burns to his upper thighs.

“The bullying and abuse was revealed once the victim went for medical treatment, with the police then launching an investigation.

“While workplace bullying is unfortunately commonplace, the actions of these men went far beyond this. I am glad each of the men have received custodial sentences and can use their time to reflect on the gravity of their actions and the lasting impact it’s had on the victim.”

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