A THUG who doused police officers with petrol said he "deeply sorry" and he was "just trying to diffuse the situation".

In a letter read out at court yesterday, Justin Jackson said he was “deeply sorry” for causing the officers so much fear, and that he “didn’t mean to do it”.

He added: “I was just trying to diffuse the situation. My mother has a heart condition and I was worried about her safety.

“Without the police the world we live in would be a bad place. I am not a violent person, I did not set out to harm anyone involved. I deeply regret it.”

Yesterday, he was jailed for his attack on eight police officers in Basildon earlier this year.

The 28-year-old sat in the dock at Basildon Crown Court yesterday alongside his mother, Janine Justin, while he was lambasted by Judge Samantha Cohen.

Prosecuting, Joe Bird told the court that the police officers had been chasing a scooter driver from Canvey to Basildon on May 5, which ended in them apprehending him in Ward Close, but not before they were doused in petrol by Jackson.

He said: “Many police officers were deployed to help the pursuit, and a police helicopter, to track the vehicle.

“Janine Justin can be seen from the helicopter taking an item from the driver, before coming back out of her home armed with a hammer where she threatened others involved in the altercation and the police officers. She was subsequently arrested.

“The incident involved a number of members of the public as well as a number of police officers.

“It was quite plain that there were attempts to interfere in the arresting the individual driving the scooter.

“It was plain from anyone at the scene that he needed to be arrested.”

It was heard that people had tackled some of the officers as they were attempting to detain the driver.

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Mr Bird said: “It was at this point that Jackson armed himself with a watering can full of petrol, and brings it to the scene and sprays it all over them; an extremely dangerous thing to do.

“Fortunately for some of the officers the petrol did not go into their eyes. Some of the officers were not so fortunate.

“One officer couldn’t see and he was on the floor with his head in his hands and couldn’t tell what was happening to him and how he would get out of it.

“The danger and fear was unimaginable. They knew they were involved in a serious incident and they thought it could get considerably worse.

“They thought they would be set alight and get significantly worse injuries and they may get killed.

"That’s the level of fear the officers were going through.”

Janine Justin, 47, formerly of Ward Close, was convicted by a jury at Basildon Crown Court of possessing an offensive weapon on October 9.

Justin Jackson, initially charged with seven attempts to cause grievous bodily harm, but these were later dropped and he subsequently admitted throwing the petrol at officers to annoy.

Mitigation for both defendents said they were deeply remorseful for their actions, which were described as being “completely out of character”.

However, Judge Cohen was not convinced by Jackson’s explanation of his attack.

She said: “It is clear to me that this was a terrifying experience for the police officers. They thought it was a disfiguring acid, but when smelling it was petrol, were fearful it would set them alight.

“It makes no sense that throwing petrol over these police officers could have stopped this matter.

"It was a deliberate act on police to prevent them making the arrest.

“It is an offence of the utmost gravity."