Man who set fire to an office block in Bournemouth jailed

Man who set fire to an office block in Bournemouth jailed

Caption: Graham Barry Barnes

Crime | Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2018 at 9:38 am | return to news

Man who set fire to an office block in Bournemouth jailed

A man who deliberately set a fire in the toilets of an office block in Bournemouth has been jailed for three years.

Man who set fire to an office block in Bournemouth jailed

Caption: Graham Barry Barnes

Graham Barry Barnes, 55 and of Richmond Park Road in Bournemouth, appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on 30 October for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to an offence of arson with intent.

Just before 9am on 30 May 2018 Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was called to reports of a fire in the toilets on the third floor of the Abbey Life building on Holdenhurst Road, which is rented by a number of call centre companies.

A member of staff had walked into the toilets and noticed smoke coming from inside and raised the alarm. The building was then evacuated and a full search of the premises was carried out by the fire service.

During the search it was established that someone had climbed up, removed a mesh ceiling panel and dropped a number of packages into the void. It is unknown whether the packages had been dropped in on that day or deposited previously and then set alight. The void also housed a water heater and it is believed the fire melted the water tank allowing the contents to extinguish the blaze.

Due to the nature of the packages, the Army’s bomb disposal team attended to carry out an assessment of the items and ensure they were safe.

The team established that they were not recognisable explosive compounds or electronic devices and were made up of a household items. A sparkler was found inside a bottle and the disposal team believe the offender had dropped the sparkler in the void with the intention of causing a small explosion.

CCTV within the building was examined and a man carrying a rucksack was seen to exit the door into the stairwell and toilet area at the relevant time and return a few minutes later. No one else, other than the member of staff who raised the alarm, was seen on CCTV in that area.

The man captured on CCTV was later identified as being Barnes and his PAC key was used to gain access. Subsequent enquiries revealed that Barnes used his PAC key to enter the building on the Sunday before the incident, which is not a normal working day for staff in the building.

Barnes was arrested on Thursday 31 May 2018.

Detective Constable Tom Bancroft, of Bournemouth CID, said, “Graham Barnes’ actions were premeditated and reckless. It is sheer luck that the fire started near a water heater, which melted and extinguished the fire. Had this not happened and the alarm not been raised as quickly as it was, many lives could have been at real risk.”

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