Family remain defiant after arsonists strike at allotment

John and Alison Hepton, with son Michael, at the remains of the family's allotment hut.
John and Alison Hepton, with son Michael, at the remains of the family's allotment hut.
0
Have your say

Years of graft by a family has been razed to the ground by vandals who targeted it seven times so far this year.

Mary Hepton believes someone is trying to force her son John, 46, and grandson John Paul, 25, from the plot they have lovingly cleared and planted during the last five years.

I know this is trying to force them out, but they’re not going to.

Mary Hepton

Since January, it has been broken into repeatedly by thugs who have broken the locks and wrecked the patch, from tearing down its polytunnel to taking tools.

In the latest attack, which happened in the early hours of Saturday, arsonists struck, burning down the shed.

The patch, on the allotments in Coxgreen Road, near Penshaw, is close to stables which burned down in a suspected arson attack in April, claiming the lives of five horses.

Mary, 66, who lives in Penshaw, said: “John Paul has just bought his first house and this has really hit use, because over five years they’ve put everything into it.

“He’s worked hard all his life and been working since he was 15, so has his dad.

“The police can’t do anything about it.

“John Paul is very shy, he’s a young man who doesn’t bother anyone else, he loves his fishing and his garden.

“I know this is trying to force them out, but they’re not going to.

“We’re trying to get some more security on there.

“The fire brigade said they were pleased they got the call because if they fire had spread, it would have gone to the woods behind.”

Mary believes it must be adults who have carried out the attacks, as the locks have been cut off, which would have required some strength.

The blaze happened at 5.50am on Saturday and was discovered by another allotment holder.

In addition to burning down the shed, it has left crops used to feed the family scorched.

John Paul, who works as a machinist at a coffin factory, and his father, a chef at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Newcastle.

Anyone with information about the fire can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.