A man who poured petrol on himself and threatened to kill everyone inside Kensington Town Hall has pleaded guilty to attempting to commit arson.
Ako Ahmed, 45, of no fixed abode, had previously been found guilty of making a threat to kill and threatening to damage property in February and on September 4, 2019, at around 11.30am, entered Kensington Town Hall in Hornton Street and started shouting at staff.
He then poured petrol on the reception floor area, all over himself and took out a lighter before threatening to kill a named employee as well as everyone in the building by burning it down.
Police were called and, upon their arrival, Ahmed was disarmed of his lighter by a police officer. He was arrested on suspicion of arson and threats to kill.
The court heard how Ahmed had been involved in a dispute with the council about his housing situation.
Ahmed was unhappy about the progress he was making with his housing officer who was unable to resolve his housing issues in the way that he wanted. He had frequently threatened the officer with arson and had made various threats to staff at the Town Hall since July 2017.
During one phone call in December 2018 he told staff at the Town Hall that none of them would see Christmas.
Rita Ali, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This outrageous display made in irritation by Ahmed had the potential to seriously harm a lot of innocent people inside Kensington Town Hall.
“Ahmed had made a series of appointments with his allocated housing officer. Having not been given the news he wanted to hear about his housing situation, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“He threatened to kill his housing officer and dousing himself in petrol before pulling out a lighter.
“In his defence, Ahmed agreed that his behaviour was attention-seeking. However, it was clear that Ahmed’s actions amounted to far more than simply attention-seeking and could have had grave consequences had the security guards not acted so quickly.
“Council workers should not have to put up with this kind of behaviour in the course of their work serving the public. The CPS will always seek to prosecute those who threaten anyone carrying out their public duties.”
Detective Constable Nigel Pacquette, Belgravia CID, who led the investigation, said: “Those Ahmed targeted had been trying to help him, but unfortunately he lost sight of that and reacted in a way that could have resulted in grave injuries for everyone involved, himself included.
“I’m thankful this wasn’t the case and would like to thank PC Stanley who bravely disarmed Ahmed of his lighter.
“If it hadn’t been for that officer’s actions, who put themselves in harm’s way, the result is unthinkable.”
Ahmed was remanded into custody on and is due to be sentenced on January 5, 2021.
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