Teen charged over school fire

A TEENAGER charged in connection with an alleged arson attack at an Ipswich high school is a former pupil at the school, it emerged today.

A TEENAGER charged in connection with an alleged arson attack at an Ipswich high school is a former pupil at the school, it emerged today.

As revealed first on The Evening Star website, Ashley Norman, 18, was yesterday charged with arson by Ipswich police.

Norman, of Clifford Road, Ipswich, was arrested following a huge blaze at Copleston High School on Sunday, August 27.

He was taken into police custody in the early hours of Monday, August 28 and later bailed by police pending further inquiries.

It emerged today that Norman is a former pupil at the school, although he is also believed to have studied at Westbourne High School.

The August 27 fire caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage to the Copleston Road school. It destroyed offices, a staff room and science labs in the old part of the building.

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Parts of the building had to be demolished in the wake of the blaze and some pupils faced delays in getting back to school at the beginning of the new term.

Mobile classrooms and toilets also had to been delivered to cope with the loss of facilities.

Laurie Robinson, the school's headteacher, today praised the police for their efforts in investigating the blaze.

He said: “I am very pleased that the police have kept me fully informed.”

Mr Robinson said the school was continuing to make progress with lessons continuing as normal and some repairs already taking place.

He added: “The response of the staff and students has continued to be excellent.

“We have now got one of the damaged laboratories back in action and are hoping a second one can be back in action shortly, as soon as we are certain the roof is water tight.”

He said one of the main corridors at the school had also now reopened.

Mr Robinson was today also due to have a meeting with those in the county responsible for school buildings and said a new building plan would hopefully be available shortly.

Police are still awaiting more forensic results following their investigation into the blaze.

Norman will appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Tuesday charged with arson and possession of cannabis.

A 16 and 18-year-old, arrested on September 1 in connection with the fire, are due to answer bail at Ipswich police station on October 30.

Weblinks: www.suffolk.police.uk; www.copleston.suffolk.sch.uk; www.eveningstar.co.uk/news

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