Man who brought terror to West End in flame-thrower siege is jailed for six years
Michael Green, 48, threatened to blow up the offices of an HGV driving school armed with an improvised flame thrower.
Dressed in a vest with wires protruding from mock explosives, Green told staff he wanted to die from a police sniper’s bullet.
He terrified four hostages by claiming he had enough plastic explosive to reduce the entire building to rubble.
“I want to die; I have nothing left to live for because I failed the HGV test,” he said.
Green was carrying a blowtorch connected to a gas canister and a weedkiller pump with two jerry cans he claimed were full of petrol.
Police sealed off the area closing roads for up to eight hours and three Tube stations causing utter chaos last April.
As live TV cameras relayed the drama to millions four hostages held for 45 minutes feared for their lives.
After about three hours Green surrendered to police and was found to be suffering no mental illness or Aspergers syndrome other than “some obsessional tendencies”.
Today at Blackfriars Crown Court Green, of Stevenage, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, communicating a false bomb hoax and criminal damage by forcing staff to throw computers and filing cabinets out of the 5 floor office window.
He denied a further charge of possessing a prohibited weapon – the improvised flame thrower designed to appear to discharge noxious liquid – which was withdrawn by the prosecution.
Sentencing, Judge Henry Blacksell acknowledged that Green had shown utter remorse but said he had set about his plan with “chilling” planning.
The judge said that Green had set out to be “some sort of martyr” based on a totally unjustified grudge.
“How dare you go into this building dressed and wired up in the way you were to terrify other human beings?” said the judge.
Duncan Penn, prosecuting, told the court that Green had held a grudge against the Advantage HGV specialised training company because they had refused to refund him £1000 after he had taken their lessons but twice failed to pass the lorry driving test.
He brought his improvised weaponry from his Stevenage home and got changed in McDonalds in Tottenham Court Road. He was admitted to the offices through an external buzzer and immediately announced “I am Michael Green. This is a hostage situation. Call the police”.
When confronted by general manager Gary Benardut he told him “I’ve got enough explosives to blow up the building therefore I have nothing left to live for.”
He released the women from the 12-strong staff but kept four hostages for around 45 minutes. After releasing them he had two further hours of discussion with police negotiators before surrendering.
Hostage Ross Whiteman later told police that the experience was “pure terror – I have never been so scared in my life.”
In fact the “bomb” turned out to be made out of plasticine, the canister only contained a mixture of methylated spirits and water and the jerry cans were empty.
David Bentley, defending, said Green had had fully expected to be shot in the head and was hoping his body could be used for donor organs.
Green, had been suffering from depression and was motivated solely to cause economic harm to the company.
The training company was closed for the following three weeks and submitted an insurance claim for £165,000 for the loss of trade and the damaged computers.
The police put 300 officers on alert and deployed a 20-strong firearms squad and trained negotiators.