Lives put in danger as arsonist strikes in South Stanley
Dec 16 2009 by Sophie Doughty, The Journal
A YOUNG family and an elderly woman were forced to flee their homes after a string of suspected arson attacks.
Police believe the same person or people are behind the four separate attacks, which took place during a three-hour period in South Stanley, County Durham, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Seven people had their lives put at risk as two front doors, a shed and a wooden hut were set alight.
Anthony Leadbitter, his partner Danielle Varty, and their three children Kershearar, four, Courtney, two, and Dillen, seven months, managed to escape after something was put through their letter box and set alight.
Anthony, 26, alerted the rest of his family after he was woken up by a smoke alarm at around 4.40am at their home on Holly Hill Gardens East.
Less than an hour earlier, pensioner Margaret Stewart had the shed in her back yard set alight, damaging the guttering, back door frame and windows of her home in on Durham Road.
Neighbours banged on her door to alert the 87-year-old who was left shaken by the incident. Neighbour Julia Conway said: “I was woken by the sparks and rang 999 straight away. We had to hammer on the door to wake Margaret as she’s not got great hearing.
“It’s absolutely disgusting that someone has done this. They deserve locking up.”