An arsonist has caused serious damage to the property of an elderly Newcastle couple and it could just have caused them their lives.

dn_screenPolice in Newcastle are appealing for information following an arson attack on a vehicle in the Shimna Road area during the early hours of Saturday 18 May.

Shortly after 12:30am a silver Nissan Almeria was completely destroyed by the fire, which is believed to have been started in a blue wheelie bin that had been pushed beside the car.  An adjoining shed and garage were also badly damaged

The retired couple from Bryansford Avenue were woken by a passer-by who alerted them that their car had been set alight by vandals. The vandals had set fire to the couple’s blue bin. This in turn set their car alight and the vehicle was completely gutted by the flames. The wall of a building to the rear of their home also suffered severe fire damage.

The Chair of Down the Down Policing and Community Partnership, Councillor Carmel O’Boyle, strongly condemned the attack and said: “This is one of the most appalling acts of vandalism that we have witnessed in Newcastle in a long time.  Presumably a drunken yob thought it would be a good idea to set fire to a wheelie bin, but the fire quickly spread to a car that was parked beside the bin.

“This car which belongs to a retired couple who worked hard all their lives, was destroyed, and it is only by sheer luck that the fire did not spread to their home. This irresponsible behaviour is something we all have come to expect from people who never seem to work a day in their lives, yet have plenty of money to spend on alcohol. They are able to  wreak havoc in our communities yet  rarely if ever have to face the consequences. If anyone with a modicum of decency knows anything about who is responsible for this despicable act, I would urge them to contact the police or Crimestoppers at once.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident or who has any information is asked to contact police at Newcastle on 0845 600 8000. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.