Man watched as factory burned

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AN ARSONIST who watched while a fire he started caused nearly £400,000 of damage to a plastics factory in Brandon has been found guilty.

David Thomas Allison, 20, of Peppers Close, Weeting, pleaded not guilty to arson during a trial that took place in August last year.

He was retried this week at Ipswich Crown Court after the first jury failed to reach a verdict.

On Tuesday, he was found guilty of starting a fire in Brandon, while on bail for two separate incidents in which he set fire to straw bales, but he was found not guilty of a second charge of arson, after the first fire spread to a nearby factory.

On February 20 last year, Allison and two of his friends, who pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, used cigarette lighters to set fire to plastic waste in the back of a lorry trailer parked on an industrial estate off London Road.

The court heard that fire from the trailer, which was parked outside recycling plant Chase Plastics, spread to a storage area of the factory and resulted in £394,564 of damage.

Prosecuting, Lori Tucker described how, after starting the fire, the group parked opposite the industrial estate to watch the blaze.

She said they drove to a car park opposite a fire station, where they watched fire engines leave, then to an area near the industrial estate which police had cordoned off and, before going home, stopped on a hill in Hockwold which had a clear view of the fire.

The court heard how factory workers felt the ground shake and heard explosions, thought to be the sound of the trailer’s tyres exploding in the heat.

“We heard two loud bangs and we could see the fire was really bad and that the sky was glowing,” said a witness who reported the identity of the arsonists to police.

During cross-examination, Allison denied the arson was his idea or that he had ‘a fascination with fire’.

The heavy haulage worker denied having anything to do with lighting the plastic but admitted going to the back of the trailer ‘to see if they (his two friends) were actually doing it’.

He also denied taking a police beacon which officers recovered from his house, where one of the other arsonists also lived.

The court heard that Allsion told police he was ‘an innocent party, in the wrong car at the wrong time’.

He will be sentenced next month, at the same time as the two friends who pleaded guilty.