A DRUNK man produced a lighter after making chilling threats to fetch petrol and 'light up' a Carlisle office where people are helped to quit substance misuse.

Gary Colin Allan, a 55-year-old man with 144 past crimes to his name, was back in trouble in late May.

Allan, of Brookside Place, Carlisle, had attended the Castle Street city centre base of Recovery Steps, a drug and alcohol recovery service.

Staff reported that Allan was shouting and abusive, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

“He made comments that he would get some petrol and ‘light the place up with you all in it’,” said prosecutor Steve McNally.

Staff tried to defuse the situation and invited Allan to come back on another occasion. But he became increasingly irate, squaring up to one male employee and asking for a fight, and to go outside.

“He then lit a lighter only inches from the staff member’s face and repeated his threat to return and burn the place down,” said Mr McNally.

When told that the police would be called, Allan reacted aggressively. He threatened to smash staff members’ cars, slammed a door and threw a fire extinguisher.

And when arrested the following day, Allan was abusive and obstructive at a police station. The booking-in procedure had to be aborted as a result.

“It was while being escorted to a cell by a PC that the defendant made an attempt to head-butt the officer, catching him slightly,” said the prosecutor.

Allan, who said no contact was actually made, later admitted threatening to destroy property, affray and assaulting an emergency worker.

Addressing Recorder Tony Hawks without a lawyer, Allan claimed “somebody started on me first” on the day of his bad behaviour at the office. He admitted being drunk and accepted that staff were acting to try and stop him committing further offences.

Allan spoke of losing both parents during his last spell in custody and the subsequent deaths of two brothers.

“I’m grieving. I’ve had no help,” he told the judge while accepting: “My behaviour was atrocious.”

Recorder Hawks heard Allan was currently engaging with the probation service, and as a result he suspended a 15-month jail term for 18 months. Allan must continue to carry out rehabilitation work with probation staff.

“I’m not going to give you a lecture, Gary Allan,” said Recorder Hawks. “The courts have been doing that for years and it has had very little effect.

The judge said Allan’s conduct in front of Recovery Steps staff had been 'thoroughly unpleasant'.

He added: “They have a lot to put up with. They are there to try and help people. What they don’t need is the sort of behaviour that you chose to indulge in on that day.

"You were abusive. You were unpleasant. You were threatening.”

The judge further noted Allan had also held a lighter close to furniture.

“People are very frightened by that sort of behaviour,” he told the defendant. “Because they don’t know, when you are drunk, how far you are going to go.

“That behaviour was directed against the very people who are trying to help you. That’s what make it so disgusting.”