Thieves torch marquee used for disabled children’s activity day

Simon Weightman from Massive Attack Paintball centre next to his container which was set on fire after thieves broke in and stole equipment.

Simon Weightman from Massive Attack Paintball centre next to his container which was set on fire after thieves broke in and stole equipment.

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THIEVES scavenged through a trailer before torching it and the £6,000 worth of equipment it was holding.

Seaton businessman Simon Weightman was left panicking when he realised a marquee set to be used in a competition for disabled children this Sunday was among the kit burnt out in the arson attack.

Since the incident at Massive Attack, on the Seaham to Houghton road, on Monday night, Ryhope firm Belle Tents have stepped in to offer one of their own for use at the event.

It is being hosted at Sharpley Springs Fishery for the Jack Charlton Disabled Anglers’ Trust and will see the football legend meet the 25 competitors.

It was rearranged for this weekend after it was postponed due to bad weather in the summer.

A petrol pump used to inflate obstacles at the paintball site was stolen, while the plastic inflatables and other gear have been ruined.

CCTV footage shows four men getting into the container before heading off towards the fields near Murton.

The damaged trailer was found in the morning after the fire burnt itself out.

Mr Weightman, who also runs Sharpley Golf Club and nearby stables, branded the intruders “villains”.

He added: “Unfortunately, they burnt out this small marquee which we used for the Jack Charlton event and was to be set up for the Mayor of Seaham and all the officials who come to the day, but thankfully Belle Tents have helped out.

“I’m quite relieved because it means they’ll have somewhere to shelter.

“It’s absolutely awful, the damage caused to the trailer. It’s totally ruined, everything’s gone.”

Police are investigating the incident, which was reported at 7.30am on Tuesday as the paintballing business began to open up for the day.

Crimes scene investigators have confirmed the fire was arson and crime prevention advice has been offered to Mr Weightman.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham