SCHOOLCHILDREN fled in terror as a drunk, racist passenger threatened to set a bus on fire.
Paul Mount was angered by youngsters who laughed at him as he staggered and sang songs on the top deck of a Lothian Buses number 35 service.
The 55-year-old told an Asian child to “go back to your own country” before he pulled a bottle from his pocket and told fellow travellers that it contained petrol before searching for a lighter.
Panicked passengers scrambled downstairs and screamed at the driver to let them off before rushing into the street.
The brave driver then fought off Mount as he tried to get into his cabin before contacting police and locking him inside the vehicle.
Mount, from North Junction Street, was yesterday jailed for 15 months after admitting a racially aggravated breach of the peace and causing the bus passengers and driver “great fear and alarm”.
He required an interpreter during the hearing after being described as “profoundly deaf”.
Fiscal Depute, Kirsty Anderson, told Sheriff Kenneth Maciver that the bus was full and contained a large number of schoolchildren on October 29 last year.
She said: “He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs, mumbling to himself and staggering.”
When police arrived, they found Mount sitting in the lower deck in a distressed and intoxicated state.
Defence solicitor Roy Harley said his client did not suffer from any psychiatric disorder, but he did struggle to answer basic questions, having “borderline intelligence”.
He had no recollection of the incident, Mr Harley said, adding that there was no petrol in the bottle, which contained only water.
Mr Harley said a witness had spoken of the children taunting his client and he resented that.
Mr Harley said: “One of the passengers shouted ‘I think he is trying to set fire to the bus’. This caused immediate panic.”
Sheriff Maciver told Mount, who has previous convictions, that there was no alternative to a custodial sentence.
“I accept you became angry when some of the passengers laughed at your bizarre behaviour,” he said. “But what you did then was unacceptable.
“You made serious threats to set the bus alight and that created understandable fear and panic and a very dangerous situation.”
It was clear, said Sheriff Maciver, that some of the young children had suffered an enduring fear about the incident which could remain with them for a considerable period of time. As Mount was led to the cells, he called out: “I will die. I will die.”