Man admits starting cinema blaze

A 22-YEAR-old man has admitted trying to burn down the Regal Cinema in Stowmarket.

Colin Adwent

A 22-YEAR-old man has admitted trying to burn down the Regal Cinema in Stowmarket.

Arsonist Lewis Filby, of Jubilee Avenue, Stowmarket, is now due to be sentenced on March 1 at Ipswich Crown Court.

Filby pleaded guilty to committing arson recklessly when he appeared before the court for a plea and case management hearing. He was released on conditional bail until his sentencing.

Filby was originally charged with arson endangering life after a blaze which caused substantial damage to the Regal Theatre in Ipswich Street on September 16.

He was arrested a few days later and was charged less than a week after the blaze.

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The fire caused nearby residents to be evacuated from their homes after it triggered fears of a gas explosion.

It started in a yard outside the theatre and cinema, but spread to the main building. More than 20 firefighters were drafted in to tackle the blaze. It quickly engulfed the first floor and roof, although no one was inside at the time.

The Regal Cinema is still shut and is likely to be closed until the New Year.

Shortly after the blaze, David Marsh manager of the Regal Cinema, said: “It's a much-loved building and the people who work here, for them it isn't just a job. We had staff here in tears last night; they do it for the love of film and the place.

“We really don't know how long it will be at the moment, but we will re-open.”

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