Arsonists strike Plymouth Islamic centre

ARSONISTS have caused up to £10,000 worth of damage to a newly revamped Islamic centre.

The two suspected arsonists were caught on CCTV setting fire to wheelie bins beside the Plymouth Islamic Education Trust centre (Piety) in the early hours of Saturday, April 19.

The footage from about 12.50am to 1am shows the pair walking down Greenbank Avenue, stopping at the former Labour headquarters to commit the offence.

As a result, the exterior of the building and the pipework of the exterior have been damaged and repairs have been estimated to cost upwards of £10,000.

The vandals then continued down Greenbank Avenue and crossed a roundabout, heading in the direction of Tothill Park.

Mohamed Muganzi, centre director, said people arrived that morning to discover the fire had damaged sewage pipes and the wall.

As a result “raw sewerage was pouring into the street” said Mr Muganzi.

He added: “We went through the CCTV and saw the whole incident.

“Most of the materials on the wall that we used were imported from Poland so we’ve had to go back to them.

“I called the company and we’ve had to order new materials.

“The building work is still under warranty but this is not wear and tear. They estimated the cost of getting it back to normal to be between £5,000 and £10,000.

“We had to buy new pipes and pay for labour to fix the pipes. We can’t use the building if we don’t have working toilets.

“We got a local firm in to come and unblock the sewer and put in new pipes and we used a local plasterer to do some work. .

“We don’t know why they did this. I’d like to find out what’s going on in their minds and try to put it right.

“We work with all our community around us, we have open days, we have schoolchildren from the area come to visit, we work with government departments helping them understand about Islam, we host a number of community groups and have the Friends of Piety to ensure we’re working well with our community.”

Police have said there is no evidence at this stage to suggest there was any ulterior motive behind the arson attack, noting there has been a number of similar arson fires in the area targeting residential and business premises.

However, they are keen to hear from anyone who may have information about the incident.

Piety paid £410,000 for the three-storey 1960s Beaumont Hall, on the corner of Beaumont Road and Greenbank Avenue, in 2008. Following a successful planning application, the group set about a major refurbishment programme, using hundreds of thousands of pounds of donations to turn the former Labour headquarters into a religious meeting house, incorporating a large community and education centre.

If you can assist police contact them on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting crime reference number EC/14/3751.

Plymouth Herald