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Arson Case

In December 2007, the tenant of a property in south east London was charged with arson following a fire in her loft. The charge relied heavily on the witness statement made by the fire investigator who had attended the scene of the alleged crime. However, an in-depth investigation conducted by ASK at the request of the defendant’s solicitors, Macauley Smith & Co, found strong evidence to refute the theory laid out in the prosecution case.

The case:
According to the fire investigator, the fire had been due to the hot ultraviolet lamps that the tenant was using to grow cannabis plants. His statement concluded that the most likely cause was accidental ignition of some PVC sheeting that formed part of the cultivation system. As a result of this statement, which, it later transpired, had been put together without a thorough examination of the fire scene, the tenant was due to stand trial at Woolwich Crown Court.

ASK’s involvement:
Our consultants undertook a review of the statement provided by the fire investigator, carried out an interview with the defendant, obtained manufacturer’s specifications for the subject grow lamp, and studied photographs and sketches of the scene. ASK concluded that the lamp could not possibly have heated the PVC to a temperature at which it would have ignited.

The result:
ASK’s report demonstrated that the mechanism proposed by the fire investigator was not credible and that too little attention had been paid to other possible causes of fire, including wiring and various electrical appliances in the loft. The trial did not go ahead and, based on the evidence supplied by our expert witnesses, charges against the defendant were dropped.

“ASK will be our first port of call if we have a case of a similar nature in the future.”
Linzi Connell, Macauley Smith

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