Man avoids jail over petrol bomb attack on Sunderland shop

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A MAN threw a petrol bomb at the home of two shopkeepers in revenge for being banned from their store.

Nathan McLaughlin hurled the home-made missile at the door of the couple’s flat, which is above their convenience store at Ryhope Street South, Sunderland.

Newcastle Crown Court heard no fire took hold, but the UPVC door was left smoke damaged and the windows at their property were pelted with eggs during the attack.

The following night McLaughlin targeted the couple’s car, cracking the front and back windscreen with rocks.

Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court that, a few days before the attacks, McLaughlin was told by the shop owners that he and his sister were barred from the premises after a series of “petty” rows.

This led to McLaughlin warning the couple “I will kill you” and within days their home was under attack, in the early hours of August 27.

Mr Bunch said: “The damage to the door was caused by a petrol bomb, on his admissions in interview.

“It was a bottle with about three inches or so of petrol in the bottom and a rag in the neck of the bottle.”

McLaughlin, 21, was arrested on August 29 and admitted what he had done.

Mr Bunch said: “He said he had been frustrated and he had made a petrol bomb, lit it while standing across the road from the store and thrown it in the direction of the shop.”

The woman shopkeeper told police she and her husband had moved to Sunderland from Sri Lanka and she had completed a masters degree before taking over the shop.

Mr Bunch said: “She said she left Sri Lanka to come here because she felt it was safer than her home country.”

The victim told police in her statement: “I’m worried my flat is set on fire while we are in it.

“I have never felt this way before.

“I hope it will end soon so I can lead a normal, safe life.”

McLaughlin, of Roselea, Ryhope, admitted attempted arson and criminal damage.

Judge Michael Cartlidge sentenced him to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 240 hours unpaid work, supervision for 12 months, programme requirements and £600 costs.

McLaughlin was also ordered to pay £311 to repair his victims’ damaged car.

The judge told him: “This was a revenge attack. It was completely outrageous; disgraceful. You are very fortunate not to be going to prison.”

The judge said he was persuaded to suspended the sentence after reading positive reports and testimonials about McLaughlin’s normally good character.

Warren Greer, defending, said McLaughlin has stopped drinking since the incidents, feels “regret and remorse” for what he did and has no intention of going back to the shop.

Mr Greer said: “There was no damage caused. The petrol bomb he threw from a distance landed short of the door and it fizzled out, that’s why there was smoke residue on the door. That was the end of it, thankfully.

“He has to accept he and others are extremely lucky in relation to that.”

McLaughlin denies he had said he would kill the couple.

Twitter: @sunderlandecho