A Fife kebab shop owner who torched a rival takeaway restaurant after getting drunk in a bad tempered booze session has been jailed for three years.
Yusuf Topal used petrol to start deliberate fire at the Pizza Boy restaurant two doors away from his own business in Carnegie Drive, Dunfermline, Fife, in May 2014, the High Court at Livingston was told.
He had consumed two bottles of vodka and two bottles of whisky in the back room of his Turkish Kebab Shop before driving to a local garage to buy the accelerant.
Jailing him on Friday, judge Lord Mulholland said Topal, previously a law abiding and hard working businessman, had brought shame on himself and put lives at risk.
He described what the 44-year-old father-of-three had done as “unfathomable” given his age and lack of criminal record.
The Turkish immigrant, who has lived and worked in Scotland and England for 18 years, now faces being deported from the UK after he has served his sentence.
Lord Mulholland told Topal he had pled guilty to “surreptitiously” setting fire to the premises of a commercial rival after they had closed and the staff had gone home.
He said: “The fact that the fire did not spread further and cause more extensive damage and loss of life of the occupants of the neighbouring properties is down to the skill of fire fighters, not you.
“You set the fire whilst heavily intoxicated, which is no excuse. If anything it is an aggravating factor.
“I consider that there is no sentence appropriate other than a sentence of imprisonment.”
Topal, who appeared in the dock on crutches, earlier pled guilty to wilful fire raising.
Michael Anderson, defending, said the accused had left Scotland with his family shortly after the offence to set up a new business in Ipswich, Suffolk.
He was detained there by police earlier this year but was not charged with failing to answer the fire raising allegations.
He said: “I have to recognise the gravity of the offence and it would be fair to say if he had not consumed the copious amount of alcohol which he had consumed on the day in question then perhaps he would not have come before your Lordship.
“That behaviour is in stark contrast to the way in which he has lived his life in general terms. For whatever reason his decision to drink the amount he did in the context of what was a difficult and rough day is a decision which he regrets.
“He recognises he’ll be sentenced to a period of imprisonment today and there may be other consequences which follow for him given his nationality.”
The court was told at an earlier hearing that a Pizza Boy worker had visited the accused’s restaurant on the evening of 10 May, 2014 to ask for change.
As an employee tried to hand over the money, he overheard Topal shout: ‘Why are you giving him it?’ And the worker left the shop without the change.
When Pizza Boy closed for the night in the early hours of the morning, the same worker decided to drop into the Turkish Kebab Shop to ask how the evening had gone.
One of the staff told him that it was not a good idea to come in as Topal was drunk and in a very bad mood.
Topal was eventually left alone in his takeaway but around 5am he got in a car, drove to a local garage and bought a can of petrol.
He then headed to an alley next to Pizza Boy from which smoke was seen billowing minutes later.
Two police officers who were walking past spotted an extractor fan at the restaurant was alight and alerted the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Firefighters soon arrived to attend to the blaze which had spread into the takeaway. Nearby residents had to be evacuated.
The court heard the fire was put out fairly quickly but had it not been for the intervention of police and firefighters the incident could have been much worse.
Fire investigators concluded the blaze was a “deliberate act” and the restaurant was found to have suffered “significant” smoke damage.
The owners were left with a £10,000 repair bill.