A man has been jailed for pouring petrol over police officers.

Justin Jackson doused eight officers with a watering can full of the fuel after they tried to arrest a youth riding a stolen moped.

A “considerable” mob had formed after the Essex Police team tried to make the arrest in May this year, drawing in a police helicopter, Basildon crown court was told.

Download the new Indpendent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

During this disorder, Jackson “armed himself with a watering can full of petrol” then “brings it to the scene and sprays officers with it”, said prosecutor Joe Bird.

“One described being unable to see, having his head in his hands on the floor, not knowing what was going to happen to him or how he was going to get out of the situation,” he added. “They thought they could be set alight and left with significantly worse injuries, if not killed.”

Temporary Superintendent Jonathan Baldwin, reading from his victim impact statement in court, said: “At the time of the incident while being covered with petrol I remember thinking ‘we could all go up in flames here like Roman candles’. It was one of those days I realised I might not have got home at all.”

Jackson had previously admitted eight counts of administering a noxious substance with intent to cause injury, over the 5 May attack. A judge found he had thrown the petrol to try and stop the police making arrests.

His lawyer, Alison Gurden, told the court he had written a letter of apology.

The 28-year-old from Basildon, wrote: “I was just trying to defuse the situation. I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve done and I can only imagine the fear they felt.”

He was jailed for three years and nine months.

His mother Janine Justin had earlier denied possessing an offensive weapon in a public place and was found guilty at trial.

The court heard the 47-year-old had armed herself with a hammer and threatened police officers with it during the incident.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

She was sentenced earlier this week to nine months in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

Gwawr Thomas, for Justin, said the defendant had no previous convictions and the incident was “out of character”.

Additional reporting by Press Association