Frustration as pier arson suspects re-bailed again

The pier blaze. Picture: Casey Peoples
The pier blaze. Picture: Casey Peoples

POLICE have defended their investigation into the Hastings Pier fire amid mounting frustration that no charges have yet been brought.

Two men, now both 19 and both from St Leonards, were arrested the night the famous landmark went up in smoke but have now been re-bailed three times, most recently on Tuesday. They are due back at Hastings Police Station on April 4 - nearly six months after the October 5 blaze.

But initial delight that two suspects had been arrested so quickly - thanks in no small part to the heroic actions of dog-walker Kevin Pearson who grabbed a man and held him until police arrived - has turned to disappointment that police have not been able to charge anyone.

Speculation over the identities of the two suspects has been rife - particularly online - with posts on Facebook message boards urging people to “name and shame” the two men arrested.

But this week Chief Inspector Mark Ling has defended the way the case has been dealt with, pointing out that it is the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which has the final say on charging suspects. He said: “The investigation into the arson at Hastings Pier has been lengthy and thorough. In the region of 40 statements have been taken and several experts, including specialist fire investigators from the Forensic Science Service, have been part of the investigation process.

“Two suspects have been interviewed in relation to this incident and have been subject to further interview. At this time, they remain on police bail pending direction from the CPS in respect of criminal charges. While I appreciate there is significant community impact and concern in this case, the CPS must base a charging decision on the evidence available.”

Police are still keen to hear from anyone who might still have any information about the fire - call 0845 6070999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.