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Petrol station staff intervene to stop forecourt suicide

Quick-thinking staff at a Malahide filling station averted tragedy when a man began pouring petrol all over himself in an apparent attempt to set himself alight on the forecourt.

The incident happened on Monday night when the disturbed man casually walked into Heeley's Esso garage in the picturesque coastal town and said to staff: "Can you activate pump four please."

The staff member on duty thought the potential customer might have a fuel can to fill and flicked the switch which put the pump in dispensing mode.

But when he looked out again seconds later to make sure, he noticed the man lifting the petrol gun in the air over his head and squeezing the lever which started the fuel flowing.

"Thankfully he noticed that the man had no car or can to fill and he promptly switched off the pump, otherwise it could have been a very different story," said a source at the station.

"There was only 12 cent worth of petrol out of the pump when it was switched off," he added.

The man then became aggressive and stood at the pump for a few minutes shouting abuse before staff called the garda station, which is just across the road from the filling station.

The gardai then escorted the man from the scene.

"It was a terrible thing to happen. It is scary," said another staff member who heard about the incident from their colleague who was working on Monday night when the tragic drama unfolded. "The man working here could not believe what he was seeing," she added.

"I have been working in filling stations for four years and have known of incidents like these to happen five times now," said one staff member.

"It's hard to understand how anybody could want to do such a thing to themselves," said the filling station worker.

Gardai say no arrests were made in the incident and the matter is not under investigation by them, but witnesses said an ambulance arrived at the garda station within 20 minutes.