Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine primary school destroyed in arson attack

Shed storing pupils' toys gutted on St Patrick's Day

By Lisa Smyth

A toyshed has been destroyed in an arson attack on a Coleraine primary school.

Pupils at Millburn Primary arrived this morning to view the scene of destruction left by the callous attack.

It happened just hours after the school held a fundraising Strictly Come Dancing event at the Lodge Hotel in the town.

The blaze was spotted by a local on Saturday afternoon, who alerted the emergency services.

The PSNI said: "Police received a report of a fire in the Greenaway Drive area of Coleraine on March 17.

"At around 4.30pm, it was reported that a shed had been set on fire. Police and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service attended and the fire was extinguished. The shed was destroyed as a result of the incident."

Causeway Coast and Glens UUP councillor William McCandless said he was horrified by the incident.

"Schools are running on a very tight budget these days so incidents like these are extremely upsetting," he said.

"As a former member of the board of governors, I know that Millburn is a great community school, it is the heart of the estate, so it is so disappointing that it has been targeted in this way.

"The school was built in the 1950s and has never really suffered from vandalism, so this has come as a real shock.

"An attack like this is very rare.

"The school is very well-looked after and supported by the community. I would appeal to anyone who knows anything about what happened to come forward and speak to the police so the perpetrators can be brought to justice."

There has been an angry reaction to the fire on social media, with residents expressing their disgust.

Police said that the fire was believed to be deliberate.

They appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation to contact officers in Coleraine on the 101 number quoting reference 891 of 17/03/18.

Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The arson comes just two weeks after a similar attack on the nearby award-winning Cornfield Project.

The sheds, which were built by children who are involved in The Churches Youth Club, were found alight on March 3.

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