'Despicable and dangerous' Arson attack at Barnstaple retirement apartments

North Devon Gazette

The Police and Fire Brigade are investigating what has been described as a ‘despicable and potentially dangerous’ arson attack at Barum Court, Barnstaple, a development of retirement apartments near Rock Park.Â

Sometime during the early hours of last Friday, February 11, a mobility scooter was set on fire which had been secured to railings at the back of the development.Â

The mobility scooter was completely destroyed in the blaze which the spread, causing damage to a camper van parked nearby and an outbuilding used to store other mobility vehicles belonging to Barum Court residents.

The mobility scooter belonged to 78-year-old resident Malcolm Fairbrother, who, unaware of the fire as it was raging, was told about the arson attack on Friday morning. He said: “The scooter, my sole means of assisted transport has been burnt to pieces. Who knows how far the fire could have spread at it was so close to the main body of flats.Â

“This could have been a worse tragedy and what worries me is that whoever did this might be responsible for something even more devasting if they aren’t caught.”Â

Built in 1988, Barum Court comprises 51 retirement apartments for the over 60s only. It looks like none of the residents were awoken by the blaze as the Fire Brigade only attended the scene later on the Friday morning. They have marked the file as suspected arson and handed over a report to the police.Â

The Barum Court development manager said: “This is a disgusting and quite despicable attack at a property where elderly people live in a secure environment. It needs to be thoroughly investigated, because whoever did this is potentially dangerous.”Â

Barum Court CCTV will be reviewed as the police investigate. There may also be other CCTV footage available in the area. Mr Fairbrother added: “The police need to look at the CCTV here and around the wider area, covering the time in question. Whoever did this either came from the direction of town or further along towards the Park Hotel, so if anyone has CCTV showing anything suspicious, they should contact them.”Â

Fortunately, nobody was injured in the fire but the potential for a more significant blaze has shocked many of the elderly residents.Â

Anyone with any information should contact the police on 101, stating the relevant case numbers below:Â

Refs: Fire Brigade Incident No: VV036086Â

Police Incident Number 251 [11th February 2022]Â