AN angling club bailiff had his parked car torched in what is believed to have been a targeted arson attack.

A car parked alongside his and belonging to a member of the public was destroyed in the same incident at the Cong Burn car park, in Chester-le-Street, at about 10pm on Tuesday, June 25.

Chester-le-Street & District Angling Club’s head bailiff, who is not being named, was on voluntary, official club duties when his private motor vehicle, a white Vauxhall Antara, was set alight and completely destroyed.

It is believed a rock was used to force access to the interior of his car and that some form of fire accelerant was used within.

The bailiff’s car contained property belonging to the angling club, his total with damages estimated in the region of £7,000.

Club chairperson Neil Ashforth said: “Our head bailiff suffered an arson attack on his private vehicle whilst carrying out voluntary, official duties to the benefit of the club and the river.

“He and a member of the public lost not only their cars but personal items too. The loss of personal items and vehicles cannot simply be compensated by insurance. Whoever carried out this attack had a total disregard for the parties involved.”

Club secretary Dale Cowey, added: “This is a very serious incident and although no-one was injured, it has caused significant upset to club members.

“It was obviously the head bailiff’s car that had been targeted and, because the other one was alongside it, it caught fire as well. It look as though the gate to the car park (which is normally locked) has been left open and this other guy has driven in their and parked there.

“The head bailiff thinking it was a fisherman parked alongside him and it turns out it was someone out walking their dog.”

Club treasurer and website administrator Lloyd Atkinson, added: “The Environment Agency provided a grant of £1,000 to which our angling club added a further £1,000 to improve the car-park, but our members are now fearful and wary of using it, particularly during the hours of darkness.”

A police spokesperson said: "Officers were called at 10.40pm on June 25 to reports of two cars on fire near the sewage works just off the A167 in Chester-le-Street.

"On arrival at the scene police found two vehicles, a Vauxhall Antara and Vauxhall Insignia, completely destroyed.

"The fire is believed to have been started deliberately. Anyone with any information should contact Durham Constabulary on 101, quoting crime reference number CRI00205269."