On­line trolls tar­get auc­tion room owner

Sunderland Echo - - What’s In Your Echo - by gavin Led­with gavin.led­with@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @sun­der­lan­de­cho

The owner of a busi­ness ru­ined by a dev­as­tat­ing fire has spo­ken about how he was wrongly blamed for the blaze by on­line trolls.

Gareth Carr es­ti­mated that around £10,000 of his and clients’ prop­erty were de­stroyed af­ter flames tore through the for­mer Savoy Bingo hall, in The Green, South­wick, Sun­der­land, which was home to his South­wick Auc­tion Rooms.

The blaze forced him to close his busi­ness and be­gin search­ing for a new job.

A man and a woman were ar­rested in con­nec­tion with what Northum­bria Po­lice still con­sider to be ar­son.

But they were later re­leased with­out charge and Mr Carr said trolls in­cor­rectly con­cluded that he must be re­spon­si­ble for the Fe­bru­ary 3 in­ferno.

Mr Carr, 31, who was in the process of mov­ing his busi­ness out of the rented premises, said: “Peo­ple put two and two to­gether and were quite will­ing to blame me on­line. It was de­press­ing at first be­cause I was al­ready up­set about what hap­pened to the build­ing and con­tents.

“But I couldn’t get con­tents in­sur­ance in the first place be­cause the build­ing had suf­fered break-ins pre­vi­ously so there was no fi­nan­cial gain to be had.

“I was ques­tioned by the po­lice be­fore they de­cided there was no fur­ther ac­tion to be taken. They were just do­ing their job and were bril­liant af­ter­wards.

“I can un­der­stand why they wanted to speak to me and I would have been dis­ap­pointed if they didn’t.”

Father-of-one Mr Carr, from Heb­burn, added: “I was in a bad place at first be­cause of the fire and crit­i­cism. Three years of hard work had dis­ap­peared just like that and it took me months to get over it.

“But I had to pull my­self to­gether, ig­nore the com­ments peo­ple were mak­ing and find my­self a new job. Now I’m a qual­ity as­sur­ance in­spec­tor at Nis­san.”

He would not dis­close how much the fire has cost him per­son­ally but added: “What I made went back into the run­ning of the busi­ness and this could not have hap­pened at a worse time.

“Peo­ple who signed up with me with their be­long­ings knew we weren’t cov­ered by con­tents in­sur­ance be­cause of the terms and con­di­tions of sale.

“I’m still try­ing to pay two or three clients’ back al­though I have un­der no obli­ga­tion to do so. That’s just the way I am.”

A Northum­bria Po­lice spokes­woman con­firmed that the two peo­ple ini­tially ar­rested by po­lice have been re­leased with­out charge and that the in­ci­dent was still be­lieved to be ar­son.

Any­one with any in­for­ma­tion is urged to con­tact po­lice on 101, quot­ing in­ci­dent num­ber 864 030217 of Fe­bru­ary 3.

“Peo­ple put two and two to­gether and were quite will­ing to blame me on­line” –GARETH CARR

The fire at South­wick Auc­tion Rooms and, in­set, Gareth Carr.

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