A REVENGE arsonist who torched a Bradford takeaway because he thought he was owed £75 in unpaid wages has been jailed for four years and two months.

Waqas Ali doused the back door at Waji’s in Manchester Road, Bradford, with petrol before setting the building on fire in a “grand gesture of destruction,” the judge sentencing him said today.

Ali, 22, of Donisthorpe Street, Little Horton, Bradford, pleaded guilty to reckless arson in the early hours of August 25 last year.

He was arrested on a warrant after failing to attend at Bradford Crown Court for sentence on July 2.

Prosecutor Philip Adams said Ali started the fire at 5am while a couple and their child were sleeping in the flat above.

He had bought petrol from a nearby filling station and threw it over the cellar door before igniting it and running away.

The owner of the takeaway, Wajid Ashgar, was on the scene very quickly, along with the fire service, Mr Adams said.

Around £30,000 damage was done to the property, with the kitchen area gutted. The family occupying the flat escaped unhurt and their home sustained minor smoke damage.

Mr Ashgar made enquiries locally and obtained CCTV footage from a business that showed Ali with a canister of petrol.

He was a former employee at the takeaway but had left five months previously and claimed that Mr Ashgar owed him £75 in unpaid wages.

Ali was arrested three days later and told the police he got drunk and lost his temper. He bought £10 of petrol and set the building alight.

He said he did not know that a family was living above the takeaway.

The court heard that Mr Ashgar had to close the business for four months. His insurance claim was still not sorted out and the incident had put a big strain on his family.

Stephen Wood, Ali’s barrister, said his client was immature and remorseful about his action and its potential consequences.

Ali had an unhappy upbringing that caused him to abuse alcohol. He needed treatment to address his emotional needs.

He had no previous convictions and no experience of a custodial regime.

After reading probation and psychiatric reports about Ali, Judge Jonathan Rose concluded that he was a dangerous offender who posed a serious risk to the public.

“There is no such thing as a little arson. It is often a measure of good fortune or luck that distinguishes between “a simple arson” and murder,” the judge said.

Ali set the takeaway on fire over “a trifling small amount of money” he said he was owed.

Judge Rose said his action was “frankly appalling and deeply, deeply worrying.”

It was a revenge attack after Ali had spent time brooding over his perceived wrong.

“As far as this court is concerned, he might reoffend in a similar way, putting the lives of others in jeopardy,” Judge Rose said.

Ali must have known there was an occupied flat above the takeaway because he had worked there.

He had sat and thought about how he had been wronged while under a high level of intoxication.

“It seemed to you to be a good idea to torch, to burn down, to destroy the property of Mr Ashgar. You were looking at a grand gesture of destruction,” Judge Rose said.

“It was entirely fortuitous that the occupants of the flat woke up and that none of them was killed or seriously injured.”

Ali was jailed for 50 months with a three-year extended licence period that puts him under close supervision on his release.

Judge Rose warned him that committing a similar offence of arson in the future could mean a sentence of life imprisonment.

A fire service spokesperson said: “We view any criminal activity involving deliberately setting fire to property as extremely serious as it could endanger lives, damage property and ruin local businesses.”