‘They set my face on fire’ man tells court

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A homeless man has told a court about the moment his face was set on fire in a vicious attack in a Blackpool flat.

John Nugent said he had to extinguish the flames with a towel or bed cover as his attacker laughed.

I reacted and closed my eyes. I turned and put my head down into the bed and the towel to my left.

During the ordeal, Mr Nugent told Preston Crown Court he was kicked, punched, elbowed and threatened in the attack at Church Street by a group of men he thought were friends.

Mr Nugent told the court he had gone to the flat – where Jonathan Stemburski lived– on the morning of February 7.

It was a flat he visited regularly but once inside he says he was subjected to a vicious beating and was not allowed to leave – despite begging with his alleged captors to set him free.

David Potts, 32, Joshua Rollinson, 18, Allan Smith, 37, Andrew Southern, 36, and Jonathan Stemburski, 35, deny false imprisonment and causing grievous bodily harm.

Mr Nugent was found confused, disorientated and crying in Topping Street – seven hours after he was last seen collecting his prescription from Lloyds pharmacy.

Giving evidence over video link at Preston Crown Court, he said that Smith set fire to his face.

He told the court: “I was sprayed with liquid and a lighter or something.

“My face was on fire. It was like an instant shock.

“I reacted and closed my eyes. I turned and put my head down into the bed and the towel to my left.

“He just laughed and Jonathan turned round and said ‘I’ve not seen that trick before’.”

Mr Nugent was finally allowed to leave the flat after being there for several hours.

As he left he said Potts told him: “What happens in the flat stays in the flay. You work for us now.”

Nugent was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital and released the following day.

But he said that evening he saw Rollinson in the Newz and Booze shop in Talbot Road.

He said: “He had a wad of notes in his hand and said ‘what will it take for this to go away?’

“He was trying to persuade me to drop the charges.”

Potts, of Salthouse Avenue, Blackpool, Rollinson, of King Street, Blackpool, Smith, of Lynn Grove, Blackpool, Southern, of Lynn Grove, Blackpool and Stemburski, of Church Street, Blackpool all deny GBH and false imprisonment at Preston Crown Court and the trial continues.