Police worker arson charge

A POLICE worker has been charged with arson after a fire damaged cars, hedges and a house in Downend.

Mark Pickford, aged 58, was arrested following the fire on Badminton Road, which happened at about 8pm on Friday June 2.

An Avon & Somerset police spokesperson said: “The fire started in a tree and rapidly spread to destroy two hedges and two BMW cars, as well as damaging the frontages of nearby homes.

“Thankfully no one was injured. A man was arrested later the same evening and has appeared in court.”

Police said Pickford, who lives in Downend, appeared before Bristol Magistrates on June 5 to face a charge of arson, while reckless as to whether life was endangered.

No plea was entered and he was released on bail with conditions, including not to enter Downend, ahead of a hearing at Swindon Crown Court in July.

The police spokesperson added: “Mr Pickford is a member of Avon and Somerset Police staff. His role is not public-facing and he has been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal and conduct processes.” 

Avon Fire and Rescue Service sent two crews to deal with the blaze, and had to close Badminton Road and isolate electricity and gas supplies while they tackled it.

A spokesperson for the service said the cars were well alight when firefighters arrived, and a telegraph pole was also damaged in the incident. 

The spokesperson said an investigation of the scene found the fire had been started deliberately.