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Man sentenced following fire at a shop in Bournemouth

20 November 2020
A man has been sentenced to four years in prison after deliberately starting a fire at a second-hand furniture shop in Bournemouth.

Guy Laurence Andrew, 52 and of Garfield Avenue in Bournemouth, was found guilty of committing arson with intent to endanger life at Bournemouth Crown Court on Thursday 1 October 2020 following a four-day trial. He was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday 20 November 2020.

At 11.57pm on Thursday 31 October 2019 members of the public walked past South Coast Living on Christchurch Road and noticed there were items inside on fire. One of them smashed the window and removed the items that were on fire.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene and described the shop as being full of smoke. They believed the fire had been started deliberately and an investigation was launched by detectives. 

Officers viewed CCTV from the vicinity and identified a man on a bicycle stop, who stopped in the pedestrian area next to the shop. He was in possession of a long thin white pole and was seen to wrap a sheet around it. 

The man on the bicycle was wearing a bright red wig, black gloves, a red coat, leggings and white trainers. 

Following enquiries, information was obtained that suggested Andrew may have been responsible for starting the fire. 

Officers attended Andrew’s address on Friday 1 November 2019 and after identifying a mountain bike matching the one seen on CCTV, he was arrested.

The bike was seized and red fibres were located hanging off the frame that matched the description of the red wig. A coat and trousers also matching the clothing seen on CCTV were located. They smelt of fire and smoke and were seized.

A small blowtorch was also located within a rucksack in the address.

Further CCTV enquiries carried out at Andrew’s address showed him by the front door holding a red wig in his hand at 10.35pm on the night of the fire.

During interview, Andrew admitted to attending South Coast Living and setting fire to it. He explained that he did this by dowsing a sheet in accelerant and using a pole to poke the lit sheet through the letter box. 

Evidence provided by the fire service during the investigation helped explain what could have happened had a member of the public not intervened when they did.

Detective Constable Ben Swain, of Bournemouth CID, said: “Thankfully due to the quick actions of the passer-by the fire was extinguished, preventing it from spreading to any nearby residential properties. 

“I am pleased that following our enquiries we were able to identify Andrew and bring him before the court to face justice for his actions.

“I am grateful to the fire service for their assistance during the incident and the investigation that followed. The evidence they provided was crucial in demonstrating what catastrophic consequences this fire could have had.”

Group Manager Katie Cornhill, of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We always work closely with our police colleagues when fires appear to have been started deliberately and it is always pleasing when such collaboration leads to a conviction. Any fire has the potential to destroy property and endanger life. This is particularly true when part of the building contains multiple residential dwellings occupied by sleeping occupants, so it is good to know that our professional expertise has helped to bring an arsonist to justice. 

“We would also praise the passers-by who saw the fire, raised the alarm and took action to prevent the fire from taking hold. Without their quick intervention and community spirit, this incident could have been much worse.”
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