Arsonist admits to car-fire spree

Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly

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A CAR-TORCHING firestarter has admitted he was behind a spate of arson attacks across Hastings and St Leonards.

Robert Kelly, 26, of Dell Close, St Leonards was arrested after police pulled him over during a routine patrol.

He was arrested and charged with four counts of arson and one count of stealing a CD player and some CDs from a car. Kelly, who has a string of previous convictions, appeared before Hastings Magistrates Court on Tuesday where he admitted the offences, and also asked for 11 other arson attacks to be taken into consideration. He was remanded in custody to appear at Lewes Crown Court on a date yet to be fixed for sentencing.

In October and November last year a host of cars and vans were targeted with residents and businesses becoming increasingly concerned over the spree. At the time, Inspector Rosie Ross of Hastings Police said: “These mindless random acts of criminal damage cause a lot of distress to the local community but there is also a huge health risk that one of the fires could end with more serious consequences.”

Vehicles were burnt out in the Old Town, on The Ridge, in Ore and as far afield as Guestling, and four people were arrested in total.

Detective Sergeant Jason Tuck paid tribute to his officers and the local community for their help in bringing Kelly to justice. He said: “The car fires were sporadic and spread out and caused a lot of inconvenience for the car owners. This was a thorough investigation involving detectives in Hastings and Bexhill and along with information provided by the public Kelly was arrested and charged.”

n Lucy Gower, 18, of Dell Close, St Leonards, has been charged with four counts of arson and one of theft from a car. She will appear before Hastings Magistrates Court on Wednesday.