Man who sparked chemical alert sent to jail

Man who sparked chemical alert sent to jail

Emergency services at Park Close, Didcot, on August 1 last year. Picture: Denis Kennedy

John Harrison was jailed for six and a half years

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter. Call me on (01865) 425373

A MAN jailed for an attack which sparked a chemical scare “got what he deserved” when he was jailed for more than six years yesterday, his victim said.

Robert Sinclair, 51, was left with 19 separate injuries including a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain following the attack on July 31 last year.

The truck driver was set upon in his bedroom by one of his housemates, John Harrison, who also sprayed flammable liquid around the room after the attack.

Oxford Crown Court heard that much of what took place inside their shared house in Park Close, Didcot, remained a mystery because both men had gaps in their memories.

Harrison, 43, blamed his amnesia on the large amount of alcohol he drank before returning home at around 1am.

He argued with his victim and a fight almost broke out, but they were separated by another housemate.

Mr Sinclair only remembers going to bed in his locked bedroom and waking up in hospital hours later in a critical condition.

He had cuts and stamp marks on his face, a broken chest bone and ribs, along with fractures to his skull bones and eye socket.

Harrison, who worked as a cabinet maker, was yesterday jailed for six-and-a-half years for inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

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The court heard he used the tools of his trade to drill holes in his car and extract accelerants, such as brake fluid, apparently in order to set fire to his victim’s bedroom.

Mr Sinclair spent 17 days in hospital, was left unable to work after the assault and had to move into cheaper accommodation as a result.

Outside court yesterday he said he was pleased with Harrison’s jail term.

He said: “I didn’t deserve what happened to me, but he deserves what has happened to him.

“It’s roughly what I was expecting and I’m happy with the sentence.”

Defending, Lucy Tapper said the relationship between the two men had started out civil, but had broken down by the time of the attack.

Referring to Harrison, she said: “He had come to the end of a long-term relationship and he was starting to feel ill at ease in his own home.

“He was very distressed at the end of his relationship and he felt constantly under the scrutiny of Mr Sinclair, who was sometimes quite vocal in his opinions.

“It was an unhappy home.”

The chemical scare was caused when emergency services were called that night by another housemate and were confronted by a powerful chemical smell.

Judge Ian Pringle said: “After you assaulted Mr Sinclair in this terrible way, you took it upon yourself to spray accelerant around the room – the only purpose of which can be to have set light to it.

“Thank goodness you did not.”

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