Drayton man accused of setting fire to his £1m family business and static caravan to make false insurance claim

Fire Fighters tackle the huge fire that destroyed the premises of Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre late on Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by Simon Finlay Fire Fighters tackle the huge fire that destroyed the premises of Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre late on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Simon Finlay

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
9:35 AM

A Norfolk man has been accused of setting fire to his static caravan and his £1 million family business to make fraudulent insurance claims.

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Justin Hindry from Aylsham Bath and Kitchens.Justin Hindry from Aylsham Bath and Kitchens.

Justin Hindry, 41, of Manor Farm Close, Drayton, appeared at Norwich Crown Court charged with two counts of arson and two counts of fraud.

The charges relate to fires at the static caravan at the Haven Seashore Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth he had bought on a £30,000 finance deal and Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre in Burgh Road, Aylsham, which Mr Hindry inherited from his father.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, told the court Mr Hindry had “got away with” the first fire, which happened on November 15, 2011 because the insurance company was not aware the burglar alarm had been turned off and then back on again shortly before the fire.

“Somebody entered the caravan with a key and turned the alarm system off,” said Mr Gair.

“They were there for 12 minutes and then a minute later, the alarm detected the fire. There were no signs of a break-in, therefore this would tend to suggest that whoever had a key started the fire.”

Jonathan Wilby, station commander at Great Yarmouth Fire Station, went to carry out an investigation into the blaze the morning after it happened.

Giving evidence yesterday, he said the fire had started in a fuse box, which was in a cupboard in the bedroom area of the caravan.

Mr Wilby said the fire could have been started deliberately or been down to an electrical fault, but added that none of the signs of an electrical fault were present on the cables he inspected.

“The likelihood of one of those faults occurring is very small,” he said.

“But there is a small, residual possibility that I cannot discount.”

Cross examining Mr Wilby, Nicholas Cotter, defending, asked if he had checked the wiring, which he replied he was not qualified to do.

He asked if he had used dogs or chemical tests to check for ignitable fluid, but Mr Wilby said he had used his sense of smell.

Mr Cotter also asked if Mr Wilby had taken the fuse box away for further investigation.

“No - we have to consider the time and the cost in investigating what is a relatively small fire,” said Mr Wilby.

Mr Gair told the court Hindry was offered £25,000 for a new caravan by his insurance company but asked to take a lower cash settlement instead.

The prosecution said the burglar alarm was also turned off and then back on again shortly before the fire at Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre, which started just before 5.30pm on June 27, 2012.

Mr Gair also said mobile phone tracking technology had thrown Mr Hindry’s alibi into question - putting him in the area of his business at the time he said he had left work to travel to his father’s house in Reepham.

indry was described by the prosecution as having a gambling habit “of not inconsiderable size”.

He lost about £61,000 at one casino between 2005 and 2011, £55,000 at another and about £12,000 in betting shops.

“There is only one reasonable explanation for the cause of both of these fires,” he said.

“They were not accidents, they were deliberate.”

The case continues.

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