A GANG tried to kill a man by dousing him with petrol and setting him on fire twice, a court heard.

Three men and one woman are alleged to have driven round to a man’s house in Southchurch Avenue, Southend, at 1am on October 30 last year to kill him by setting him on fire.

Jane Reilly, 52, of Trowbridge Road, Harold Hill, Alan Archer, 32, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff, Paul Bruns, 52, of York Road, Southend, and Ben Ince, 40, of no fixed address, all deny attempted murder.

However, Archer has already admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and all four admit being present when the petrol was thrown on the man.

At Basildon Crown Court yesterday, John Caudle, prosecuting, told the jury: “They drove to Southchurch Avenue where he was staying and they got him to come out of the door.

“As he was outside on the pavement, petrol was poured over him and he was set alight.

“He managed to move away and take his burning top off but all four of the defendants followed him and he was set alight again.

“He sustained horrendous injuries and is very lucky to be alive. He was not released from hospital until December 18.

“The prosecution’s case is that all four intended to kill him.

“We suggest if you pour petrol over someone and set light to them you at least are set to cause them really serious injury.

“But to then go after that person, douse him again with petrol and set fire to him for a second time, there can be no doubt that you intend him to die.”

CCTV footage from across the street showed the man go up in a huge ball of flames after Reilly threw the petrol over him.

Mr Caudle told the jury the victim had previously been given a watch by Reilly, but a few days later after leaving his job where he worked with her, had pawned it at an off-licence to buy alcohol.

Reilly had asked for it back, and the man had taken her to the store on October 29 where she paid between £5 and £6 to buy it back.

But at around 1am the next morning, CCTV footage captured the four defendants in Reilly’s car filling up a five litre petrol container at a fuel station before calling the victim who told him where he was.

Mr Caudle said: “He [Archer] said that was good as he was just around the corner.

“When he [the victim] went outside he saw Archer was holding the petrol can and the other three were there near Reilly’s car.

“When you watch the CCTV you will see it’s Reilly who pours petrol on him on the first occasion.”

Mr Caudle said it is not known who set the man alight, or who threw petrol the second time. The trial continues.