A PRIVATE hire car driver accused of setting fire to a police riot van has been cleared – despite targeting police vehicles with petrol just two weeks before.
Ishan Yurbas was alleged to have torched the reinforced Police Scotland van as it sat parked outside an Edinburgh station by pouring petrol over the wheels and setting it ablaze.
Officers were forced to evacuate the Gayfield Square station and nearby homes as the destroyed riot van was engulfed in flames.
The total cost of the damage to the riot van – which was written off in the incident on June 5 this year – was said to be around £50,000.
But Yurbas was cleared of the fire attack following a three-day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week when a jury returned a not proven verdict.
The jury did, though, find the Turkish national guilty of pouring petrol over the wheels of a patrol car and marked police Transit van outside Leith police station two weeks previously when he was caught on CCTV.
The court was shown the camera images from a nearby pub showing Yurbas outside the Leith station and crouching down beside the police vehicles on May 22.
Witnesses later smelled the petrol and a plastic bag with a Vimto bottle containing petrol with Yurbas fingerprints on it was found close by.
Sheriff Robert Fife told Yurbas, from Edinburgh, to expect a custodial sentence when he returned to court to be sentenced later this month.
But the 41-year-old was cleared of the more serious arson attack at the Gayfield Square station despite him admitting to being in the area at around 4am.
Police officers also found a jacket smelling of smoke and a milk bottle containing petrol in Yurbas’ car despite the motor running on diesel. But the private car driver claimed he had been walking in the Capital’s city centre around the time the fire was set due to him observing Ramadan and not being able to sleep.
PC Russell Muir said the van was “fully-equipped” with reinforced glass, a black cage over the front windscreen and riot shields inside.
But following evidence the jury could not agree and a majority not proven verdict was returned for the fire attack on the riot van. Sentence was deferred to November 23.