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Friday, 25 April 2014

Workington arson victim fears mistaken identity

A Workington man whose car was torched as his granddaughter slept feet away fears he was targeted after being mistaken for a man accused of child porn offences.

John Graham, 53, of Grasmere Avenue, heard a bang and saw flames pouring from the door of his Volkswagen Passat after checking on 18-month-old Paige at about 10.15pm on Saturday.

The back window of the car was smashed and the vehicle had been set alight.

The attack happened three days after John Leslie Graham, also 53, of Edinburgh Road, Maryport, appeared at West Cumbria Magistrates Court charged with making and possessing child pornography.

Arson victim Mr Graham, who used to play professional rugby for Workington and Carlisle, said: “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.

“I am worried somebody thinks that of me. People who know me know I wouldn’t do something like that.

“It doesn’t take rocket science. The bloke’s address is Maryport. I live in Workington. It’s a different town.

“I’m worried I could get a brick through my window any night. I don’t want my grandkids anywhere near my house. I am worried about their safety.”

Mr Graham’s five-year-old grandson Declan stays at his house most Saturdays, but it was the first time that Paige had visited overnight.

Mr Graham was in his lounge watching TV with Declan asleep on a sofa when he heard a crackling from Paige’s baby monitor and went to check on her.

She was asleep in the front bedroom, about 20ft from the car, with a caravan and plastic awnings between the two.

As he left the bedroom, Mr Graham heard the bang.

He said: “When I looked out of the window the flames were leaping out of the door and they must have been less than two feet from the caravan.”

He called 999 and grabbed a hose from the back garden to put out the flames, which gutted the inside of the car.

Mr Graham, a former bouncer at Workington’s Rendezvous nightclub, said: “I loved that car. I’d just put a lot of modifications on it. Now I’m scared to get another.”

Police have urged anyone with information about the fire to call 101.

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