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Arson devastates business

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

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THE owner of a Bessbrook vehicle recovery service has spoken of his devastation at losing three specialist vehicles in what police are treating as an arson attack.

Riverside Recovery are based at Craigmore Mill industrial estate, and the attack, which has caused losses to the business of over 50,000, happened in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It is believed that those responsible may have approached the yard on foot, after viewing the premises from the nearby motorway flyover.

The blaze at the yard was fought by firefighters for hours, as they tried to stop it spreading to adjacent industrial units.

"I am devastated and really angry about it," said Mr Mark Cunningham.

"But you just have to dust off your shoulder and just go on."

In the wake of the attack, Mr Cunningham has been inundated with help from other recovery vehicle firms, offers of assistance which have bowled him over.

"I've just been completely gobsmacked by it," he declared.

"It's crazy the offers and the help - we've even had young lads offering mini diggers to help clean up the yard. I just wasn't expecting it at all.

"On Saturday, I didn't know what I was going to do, or what way I was going to continue. But after seeing everybody doing that, I just thought it's not going to stop me, I'm going to keep going.

"Kevin Clarke from KC hire gave me his wee lorry to use away at and BTS Recovery in Belfast have given me one of their lorries, and Johnny Morgan of JM Autospares has given me a wee lorry.

"I've that many lorries offered to me that I could have 15 lorries in the yard here at the minute."

Mark is certain that the target of the well-planned attack was the business itself, and was not against either himself personally or any of his colleagues.

He set up the business a year ago and it had celebrated its first anniversary on April 16.

"I was excited about being 12 months in business. We started off with a big Mercedes lorry, which is sitting in pieces now," he said.

"And then we built up bit by bit, we got ourselves up to four lorries and a 4x4 service vehicle, and a wee Fiat Doblo wheelchair vehicle for doing recoveries for people with motability scooters and stuff like that.

"And we've just been wiped out. All I have now is a Fiat Doblo, a van for the wheelchairs and a 4x4 vehicle.

"I also have a wee lorry that I just had bought on Wednesday evening off a friend of mine in Dublin, and I took it up the road and I put it in the shed to do the brakes and stuff up on it.

"And it has to go through PSV to get into Northern Ireland number plates. Me, my Dad and my Dad's mate were working away at it on Friday evening until eight or nine o'clock.

"And I just told them that it was nine o'clock on a Friday evening - we'll all go home and let the lorry lie there.

"I have an awful habit - lorries are parked always nearly ready for a photo at any time. They're always sitting gleaming, sitting in a line. I'm just proud of them.

"It was just really lucky that there was one sitting in the garage. But we can't even drive it, as it's sitting in southern number plates."

 Sergeant Neil Wallace said: "Police received a report of a fire from NIFRS at premises in the Craigmore Road area of Newry around 2.30am on Saturday, 28 April.

"Although no-one was injured in the incident, three recovery vehicles were destroyed and two cars were scorch-damaged. It is currently being treated as arson.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 179 of 28/4/18.

"Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime."

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