AN ARSONIST threatened to set himself on fire... because he was owed money.

Anthony Vincent claimed he was owed the cash by Jeyendiran Kandiah, and turned up at an address in Ifield Drive in Crawley.

When Mr Kandiah told the 42-year-old he would not pay him, he replied: “Ok, you need to see how I’m going to die.”

He then doused himself in petrol from a plastic bottle.

But rather than carry out the threat, he took off his T-shirt and set that on fire instead, saying: “This T-shirt is me, I burn it.”

Lewes Crown Court was told that Vincent wanted money to go to Sri Lanka to see his aunt who had cancer.

Judge Paul Tain was told the T-shirt was set on fire just a metre away from Mr Kandiah’s front door, but in the end only the grass outside was scorched.

Vincent was handed a 16-month suspended prison sentence and put under curfew for the next four months.

Sarah Lindop, prosecuting, said the incident happened on July 24 last year, and said Vincent was arrested soon after.

At interview he told officers he was angry, and said: “I wanted to set myself on fire, I didn’t think about my wife and kids.”

Ms Lindop said: “The defendant had gone to the BP garage in Northgate for the petrol. He then went to Mr Kandiah’s home to ask for money.

“Mr Kandiah refused, so the defendant said ‘OK, you need to see how I’m going to die’. He then poured the petrol on himself. Mr Kandiah shut the door and walked away from it.”

She said it was a shocking incident for Mr Kandiah, whose children were at home inside the property.

Andrew Stephens, defending, said only the grass was scorched in the incident, and said his client made a full admission to police when he was interviewed.

He said Vincent, of Vanners in Crawley, had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had no previous convictions.

Mr Stephens argued for a non-custodial sentence and said: “That seems to me to be the most workable solution. It won’t be something he can forget or get away from.”

Judge Paul Tain said the facts of the case were “a little odd”. He said: “You do appear to have poured petrol over yourself.

“Some splashed over Mr Kandiah, who had the sense to close the door.

“You dropped the T-shirt on the floor, immediately adjacent to the door and set it on fire.

“The victim was obviously shaken and caused anxiety by what happened, but it is clear that there was no attempt to set the house on fire.”