A MAN who could have caused a disaster when he dumped rubbish from his home in a skip and set it alight has been locked up.

Neil Ivin risked lives because – unknown to him – there were 175 litres of cooking oil stored in barrels not far from the blaze.

The fire spread to the rear gates of a Tandoori restaurant in Stockton but was put out by emergency crews before it caused carnage.

Ivin, 48, was caught on CCTV putting a large yellow carrier bag into the skip in a narrow alley and returning to it twice.

He initially denied being the man on the footage and claimed a witness had only picked him out because he had a bald patch like the real suspect.

Later, at court, he pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and was jailed for two years and ten months.

Prosecutor Peter Sabiston told Teesside Crown Court that had the blaze spread to the four barrels behind Azad Tandoori, it would have engulfed the entire restaurant and flat above, as well as other properties nearby.

The Tandoori owner said he was “horrified” by what had happened, and could not believe someone set a fire in the 15ft alley off Bowesfield Lane.

Nigel Soppitt, mitigating, described Ivin as a recluse and “a complex character” and told the court: “He says he was completely bewildered by the consequences of his actions.

“There wasn’t a hint of malice when he set that fire.”

Judge Howard Crowson told Ivin: “This was an arson which risked people’s lives.

“Behind the door, and you could not have known this, the restaurant had waste oil in barrels. It was a significant risk that you caused.”