A lorry driver who crashed a tanker containing 2,000 litres of fuel into a bungalow while his wife was inside has been jailed for seven years.

Hugh Billington, 51, lit four fires and switched on a gas hob inside his Dorset bungalow after the crash. His wife Christine escaped by climbing through the window.

Passing sentence at Dorchester crown court, Judge Roger Jarvis declared Billington "wickedly irresponsible" for the crash on 20 January.

Billington admitted arson, reckless endangerment, assault, dangerous driving and theft.

The driver, who separated from his wife in 2011, denied a charge of arson with intent to endanger life, claiming that he had checked that the property was empty before driving the seven-tonne tanker into the building

About 30 firefighters tackled the blaze, which did not catch the tanker. The judge praised Darren Fletcher, who saw the crash and climbed into the tanker cab, which he reversed away from the burning property.

Billington, who stole a boiler suit and rugby shirt on the same day as the crash, fled the scene and assaulted off-duty special constable Trevor Knott, who attempted to make an arrest.

Billington, of no fixed abode, is a former army musician with the Household Cavalry Regiment.

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