Monday, February 23, 2009

He is one of Preston's most notorious criminals – but 'Toxic Terry' is fast developing a cult following.
Terrence Ashcroft is known throughout Preston for drinking petrol and sniffing lighter fluid, as well as accidentally setting himself on fire.

The 36-year-old is homeless and is currently serving a four-month jail term for breaching his ASBO ... yet also has an online fan club with almost 3,000 members.

A group called the Toxic Terry Fan Club has been formed on social networking site Facebook to chronicle his troubled life.

Under his ASBO he was prohibited from having any petroleum or solvents, as well as from making 999 calls other than in an emergency, and from using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

The site features various pictures of Terry with his 'friends', including some of him recovering in hospital.

It also contains spoof tubs of Toxic Terry Adhesive as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The site's message board has been flooded with stories about him as well as messages of support.

One said: "He'll be happy enough inside until April/May when they let him out."

We'll all miss him but it's probably the best place for him in this weather. He's just as famous in prison though as he is on the streets – as soon as he goes in everyone wants to see the legend in the flesh."

Another reads: "Hope Terry has a good hol – won't be long before he is out enjoying himself again."

But Steve Lambert, director of volatile substance abuse charity Re-Solv, said his problems are a "tragedy" which should not be celebrated.

He said: "I think that rather than looking up to this person they should be saying this is the tragedy of a life destroyed."

The message should be about what solvents can do to you. It is a tragedy, but this is the consequence of volatile substance abuse."

Mr Lambert added that, on average, solvent abuse claims the life of one person every week in the United Kingdom.

In 2004 hundreds of leaflets were distributed in Preston city centre to alert people to the terms of an ASBO which Ashcroft had received.

by Ben Robinson in the Lancashire Evening Post