AN angry investor terrified staff at a legal firm by pouring petrol around an office and trying to set it alight, a jury heard.
A court heard frightened workers fled as Emmanuel Komolafe walked into offices of Dixon Law Solicitors armed with a can of petrol and a lighter and began dousing the reception area in flammable liquid.
Some of the liquid landed on one of the employees during the incident at Saw Mill Yard, in Holbeck Village, close to Leeds city centre on December 13 last year.
Alistair Campbell, prosecuting, said: “Fortunately he (Komolafe) was unable to get the lighter to ignite. Those staff who were in the office made good their escape.”
Leeds Crown Court heard Komolafe travelled by train from his home in London before buying the petrol at a service station on Tong Road, Leeds.
He then took a taxi to the office before confronting staff.
Mr Campbell said Komolafe, 40, had invested £20,000 in a property venture with Manchester-based Home Trader.
The prosecutor said Dixon Law had been dealing with the project and Komolafe had been unhappy with delays, believing he was not getting the returns he thought he should be receiving.
Three days before the incident Komolafe had sent an e-mail to a Dixon Law director which read: “When the time comes I will definitely pay a visit and in this age and time it is not difficult to settle a score.”
The jury heard Komolafe walked into the firm’s office at 2pm. Some members of staff had already left to go to their Christmas party at the nearby Foundry pub.
He asked to speak to a member of staff and a director before his attitude and behaviour changed.
Mr Campbell said: “Firstly he produced a petrol can from a plastic bag. He took the top off it and started throwing petrol around the office and reception desk and said ‘This is how we do things in my country’”.
Komolafe then tried to spark a lighter he had been carrying in his hand but it failed to work.
Staff ran from the office to the pub to alert colleagues. A short time later Komolafe was confronted by company owner Colin Dixon.
Mr Campbell said Komolafe threw petrol towards Mr Dixon. It missed him but some of the liquid landed on a member of staff. Komolafe again tried to light the lighter but it failed to spark.
Komolafe then left and caught a train back to London. He was arrested later that evening at his home.
When interviewed by police he claimed he had acted in self defence after he became scared when he was threatened.
Komolafe claimed he had travelled to Leeds because he wanted to buy a car and thought they would be cheaper in the West Yorkshire city than in London.
He claimed he had bought the petrol because he didn’t want his vehicle to run out of fuel.
Komolafe said he decided to go into the office to discuss his investment when the incident happened.
Komolafe, of Butcher Walk, Swanscombe, Kent, pleads not guilty to two charges of attempting to destroy property by fire with intent to endanger life and one charge of threatening to destroy or damage property.
The trial continues.