Arsonists who torched van caught on camera

The torched Volkswagen van
The torched Volkswagen van

CCTV clues could hold the key to catching mindless arsonists who torched a St Helens car dealer’s van.

Andrew Blackburn was asleep in the Nutgrove Hall Drive home he shares with his wife and nine-year-old son when a passer-by banged on his door to tell him his Volkswagen Transporter was on fire.

He immediately called both the fire service, who put out the blaze, and the police due to the suspicious nature of the fire.

Mr Blackburn said: “From our bedroom it looked like the house was on fire. The window and the room were both lit up. It’s lucky the fire service arrived so quickly otherwise it could have taken the house.

“My CCTV cameras show two men setting fire to the van before running off. There’s also CCTV evidence from a garage on Elton Head Road.”

Detectives believe the arsonists threw a heavy object containing a flammable liquid through the windscreen at about midnight on Monday, February 18.

Fortunately, the blaze did not spread to Mr Blackburn’s house, but the van, which was bought for £22,000, has since been written off.

He added: “This fire could have killed someone. If the wind had blown towards the house it could easily have caught fire. I’m offering a £5,000 reward for information which leads to a conviction.”

DC Steve Kellet, of St Helens CID, said: “This was a reckless and dangerous thing to do and we’re doing all we can to trace those responsible. The family were asleep in their beds at the time and the fire could easily have spread to the house and put them at risk.

“They are understandably very upset and worried and the police are supporting them.

“It is important that we establish why this has happened and who is responsible. I am keen to hear from anyone who has heard anything about this incident or anyone living in the area who saw anything suspicious on the night itself.”

Anyone with information can call St Helens CID on 0151 777 1584 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.