Police funds to prevent another firework tragedy

FIREWORK VICTIM: Arky Lonsdale and below, the rocket pushed through his door.

FIREWORK VICTIM: Arky Lonsdale and below, the rocket pushed through his door.

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POLICE are to get thousands of pounds in council cash to tackle bonfire-related trouble in an area where a grandfather died after yobs stuffed a firework through his door.

Arthur Lonsdale – known as Arky – died two days after he was found collapsed in the doorway of his home in Witherwack in October 2004.

The 52-year-old had been overcome by smoke and fumes after a rocket was pushed through the catflap at his home. The rocket became lodged beneath his fridge-freezer and spread flames to nearby newspapers and a bean bag.

A 16-year-old boy admitted manslaughter at Newcastle Crown Court and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Now councillors have approved plans to allow police to use £3,000 to target antisocial behaviour across the north side of the city in the run-up to Bonfire Night.

A special meeting of the council’s Northern Area Committee approved an application to use the cash to fund half the £6,000 bill for the operation.

The money was left over from a £10,000 grant made to police from the authority’s Strategic Initiative Budget to tackle problems in Seaburn and Hylton Castle during the summer.

A committee report said that despite an overall fall in crime and disorder since 2011, October and November had seen ‘a significant rise’.

Tony Carty, Northumbria Police’s neighbourhood inspector for North Sunderland, told the committee: “We care about antisocial behaviour, we care about keeping the number of victims to a minimum. Hopefully, as a result of all the activity we are doing, we will have a successful night this year.”