Child arsonists sought by police `copter

A POLICE helicopter has twice been used to try and catch a gang of young arsonists linked with a series of fires.Children as young as eight, along with older teenagers, are believed to be among those targeting property in and around Sudbury.

A POLICE helicopter has twice been used to try and catch a gang of young arsonists linked with a series of fires.

Children as young as eight, along with older teenagers, are believed to be among those targeting property in and around Sudbury.

Two of the four attacks have been at the site of a derelict football stadium, where the owners are still trying to resolve a long-standing row over a housing redevelopment scheme.

An abandoned caravan and a former commercial van converted to a home have both been destroyed in two attacks in three nights at the former Priory Stadium headquarters of Sudbury Town Football Club.


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The ground has been the subject of half-a-dozen fires since the final match at the stadium in October 1999. The club, which now operates as AFC Sudbury, says it has been fighting a losing battle to keep vandals off the site.

Fires on Saturday and Monday evening, which both resulted in Suffolk police putting its helicopter up to search the area, have coincided with linked arson attacks on Chilton Industrial Estate and in neighbouring Great Cornard.

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Suffolk police have appealed for anyone who has seen anything suspicious to come forward, with the outbreaks starting with a skip containing cardboard in a car park next to Mauldon's brewery in Addison Road at 6pm on Friday.

At 10.30pm the same evening, a recycling bin at Great Cornard Upper School in Head Lane was ignited.

In the last incident at Priory Stadium at 7.40pm on Monday, six to seven youths were seen to run away from the area, and police believe they may have been responsible for the fire.

Four of five have been described as between eight and 11 years. Two further youths were older, one wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and had collar length hair. The other youth wore a white t-shirt.

"Police would like to hear from anyone who was in the area of the time of the incidents who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously, or recognises the group of youths from the descriptions," said Pc Liz Goymour-Milne, who is appealing for information on 01284-774300 or Crime Stoppers on 0800-555-111.

n Earlier this year the football club, through developers Fairview Homes, submitted a new plan for 60 homes on the Priory Stadium site, but Babergh District Council has asked for amendments.

Planner Christine Thurlow said there were a large number of outstanding issues, but she hoped to have some positive news within six weeks over alterations requested by the council.

She added: "The issues to be resolved are significant and considerable, including the housing mix when judged against need, layout, highway matters and unresolved flood compensation measures."

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