A SHOP full of customers – including several children – was evacuated after the owner’s brother started pouring petrol on the floor.

Ex-employee Michal Rybak had earlier threatened to burn the store down in “revenge” after being given a series of warnings about his behaviour.

But he was spared an immediate prison sentence after an act of brotherly love.

Southampton Crown Court heard that the shop’s owner, Marcin Rybak, had offered the defendant a temporary role in the business while he looked for work.

The incident occurred at the Foodstop supermarket in Bitterne Road West, Southampton, on July 22 last year at 2pm.

Giles Bedloe, prosecuting, said: “Police received a report that a man was pouring petrol on the floor. Staff were concerned it would be ignited and evacuated the shop.

“There were about 15 customers in there at the time, including children.”

Rybak caused £7,000 of damage but left without starting a fire. When police arrived they found a jerry can and an open can of beer.

Mr Bedloe said: “Rybak had told the manager he wanted to burn the shop down and that it was in revenge for everything which had happened in the past.

“He was arrested at a relative’s house about a mile from the shop.

“The owner confirmed a long-standing dispute between him and his brother. The defendant resigned after receiving a number of warnings about his behaviour, which had been getting worse.”

Rybak, 35, of Edwina Close, Southampton, admitted threatening to damage or destroy property.

Tim Akers, mitigating, said Marcin Rybak had offered the defendant a temporary post away from the store while he looked for another job.

Judge Nicholas Rowland said: “This was a serious offence, threatening to burn down your brother’s shop.

“You had a jerry can and were splashing petrol around. You caused about £7,000 of damage, a significant sum for a shop of that size.

“The customers must have been frightened by what you were doing.

“Happily you did not try to set fire to the shop. If you had the outcome, both then and now, would have been very different.

“You should be very grateful for your brother’s attitude – if it hadn’t been for that you would go to prison.

“He is giving you another chance and so am I.”

Ryback was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Judge Rowland added: “I hope this is an isolated episode in your life. I also hope you get the help and treatment you need.”