A man who claimed he had been short-changed after buying cigarettes from a petrol station in Salford, Greater Manchester, returned and started a fire risking an explosion, a court heard.

Kamil Sciebior, 29, has been jailed for five years after admitting arson being reckless as to endanger life, which was deemed to be racially-aggravated after he called an assistant on the forecourt a “terrorist”.

The attendant was working a night shift at the Shell petrol station on Liverpool Road in Irlam, Salford, on October 22 last year when Sciebior arrived at around 11pm and bought a pack of cigarettes through the night counter.

He left but returned shortly after and claimed he had been given the wrong change.

Sciebior became aggressive and said he wanted to buy a lighter, but the attendant refused to serve him, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Sciebior then asked a member of the public to go to the petrol station and buy a packet of matches for him, which they did.

After leaving and returning again Sciebior appeared to be drunk, and began to racially abuse the member of staff.

He repeatedly called him a ‘terrorist’ and a ‘bomber’ and made ‘explosion gestures’ with his hands, the court heard, and he started lighting matches and dropping them on the floor.

The attendant told Sciebior he was ringing the police and dialled 999.

Sciebior then picked up a bag of charcoal, which was on display outside the petrol station, held it up and set it alight.

He dropped the bag on others in the display, and the bags caught fire and the petrol station windows could be heard “cracking”.

Prosecutor Vanessa Thomson told the court the attendant said he was “terrified”, “not least because this was all talking place on a petrol forecourt”.

He used the emergency button which turns the petrol pumps off, and was able to escape through the front door.

Police officers arrived and extinguished the blaze, before the firefighters arrived and made the area safe.

Sciebior was arrested at the scene, and told police officers: “They didn’t sell me cigarettes. I started a bonfire.”

Thomson told the court there “could have been a very serious explosion”.

Talking about being labelled as a ‘terrorist’ in a victim impact statement, the petrol station attendant said: “I am of Islamic faith, but I was born in Manchester. I am horrified and deeply offended by this reference.”

Defending, Brian McKenna claimed the prosecution were "alarmist” in saying there was a risk of explosion.

“This arose because of some silly dispute about him being short-changed by the cashier,” he said. “If there was a danger to anybody in this scenario the danger was to himself.”

Sciebior, of Liverpool Road, Eccles, who had no previous convictions, was jailed for five years. He received four years after admitting the count of arson, and another 12 months was added after the judge said the offence was racially-aggravated.

Sentencing, recorder Raymond Wigglesworth QC said: “Who knows what might have happened if the police and the fire service hadn’t been so quick to attend.”