A BUNGLING thug who tried to firebomb a pub while people were sleeping inside has been jailed.
Amir Ali was accidentally hit by a petrol bomb thrown by his accomplice and then ran into a lamppost as he tried to escape.
The 28-year-old was trying to firebomb the Imperial pub, in Broadfield, but his attempt turned into a farce.
Yesterday he was given an eight-year jail term for the crime.
The court was told Ali and another man, who has not yet been found by police, went to the pub at around 3.30am on May 28, 2008.
Ali threw two bricks, breaking a window, and the other man then threw a petrol bomb. But it hit Ali and burst into flames.
The flames died away almost immediately as he ran away, but in his panic he ran straight into a nearby lamppost.
He hit his head and was briefly knocked to the floor.
He went to the Crawley NHS Walk-in Centre for treatment and was linked to the attack by investigating officers.
He tried to deny he had been involved but had been caught on the pub's CCTV cameras.
The licensee of the pub, on Broadfield Barton, was woken by banging noises and came downstairs to find the front door had been smashed.
Two bricks and the remains of the petrol bomb that had failed to ignite were lying on the ground.
Ali was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court, sitting in Brighton, after previously being found guilty during a trial in August this year.
DC Craig Allan, from Sussex Police, said: "This was a prolonged and difficult investigation during which the defendant consistently denied being responsible.
"However, gradually we were able to piece it all together and this week's sentence reflects the seriousness with which the courts take this kind of behaviour."
Anyone with information on the second man, who is still wanted, is asked to contact police on 0845 6070999.
I must say I find the tone of this story rather surreal; what is in any way funny about any of this?
But for his own incompetence, this violent thug could have killed a lot of innocent people; the smirk on his face shows that he realises he'll be out in a mere four years for "good behaviour" (i.e. not killing anyone whilst he's inside - too brutally, anyway), and his equally dangerous accomplice is still at large.
The only joke is how a once proud country turned itself into the laughing stock it has become.