Two men charged with arson over Southwick bingo hall blaze

Two men have been charged with arson more than two years after a blaze burned down a former bingo hall in Sunderland.

By Fiona Thompson
Monday, 15 July, 2019, 12:17

Northumbria Police officers investigating a fire that ripped through the former Savoy bingo hall on The Green in Southwick have today, Monday, July 15, confirmed two people have been charged in connection with the incident.

They will appear before magistrates in South Tyneside on Tuesday, July 16.

Fire as it raged at the former bingo hall site in Southwick on Friday, February 3, 2017.

The blaze happened on the evening of Friday, February 3, 2017.

A police spokesman said: “The fire started at about 5.30pm and prompted a significant emergency service operation, with more than 50 firefighters from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service brought in to fight the flames.

“The extent of the damage saw the property’s roof collapse into the street, with roads around the building – which was being used by an auction rooms business - cordoned off by police as a precaution.

The site of the fire at the former bingo hall in Southwick before it was partially demolished.

“Thankfully, nobody was injured.

“Following initial inquiries, it was ascertained that the fire was believed to have been started maliciously and an investigation was subsequently launched by police.

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“Now, two years on from the incident, police have charged Paul Bell, 45, of Foundary Row, Coxhoe, and Terry Mcewen, 47, of Southend Road, Gateshead, with arson.

“They are due to appear before magistrates in South Tyneside tomorrow.”

Police at the scene of the fire in Southwick after the former Savoy bingo hall caught light in February 2017.

The force added a man and a woman who were arrested as part of the initial investigation have been released with no further action to be taken.

The wreck of the building left an eyesore on the busy street, with demolition work initially started by the site’s owners.

However, when the clearance work came to a halt, Sunderland City Council took a series of steps to ensure the land was razed and sealed off to the public.

Former fire damaged bingo hall at Southwick before work began to knock it down.

Anyone with information regarding the fire is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 864 030217 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Alternatively, you can email the officer in charge on 976@northumbria.pnn.police.uk.