Gardener has chickens burnt alive and classic tractor destroyed as arsonists hit ten times

Darlington and Stockton Times: TENTH FIRE: James McLeod assesses the damage at his Billingham allotment TENTH FIRE: James McLeod assesses the damage at his Billingham allotment

A GARDENER has told of his upset after arsonists once again attacked his allotment where he brought his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and toiled for 45 years.

Last time 76-year-old James McLeod’s allotment was attacked his chickens were burned alive and this time they destroyed his classic 1954 Massey Ferguson tractor worth £2,500.

The latest arson at 10.20pm on Monday, February 4 was the tenth time in ten years Mr McLeod’s one-acre allotment near Cowpen Bewley Road has been burnt by arsonists.

The retired plater said the allotment was “my lifetime’s work” but said his tractor was insured.

He said: “With the chickens they pinched half of them, but then burned the other half. Who does a thing like that?

"Why they wanted to burn the tractor, it was locked up in a steel shed, I don’t know. Probably just to see it burn. You used to be able to leave things here, no bother, but it’s got a lot worse. That’s ten fires in ten years, I’m sick of it.

“The police told me on Monday night and I had to come down the next day and see all this mess. It’s my lifetime’s work.”

Mr McLeod’s daughter, Jeannie Scott, said she “virtually grew up” on the allotment and took her own children there.

She said: “Dad’s devastated really. It nearly killed him last time, especially seeing the chickens killed like that. He had a little workshop there and they burnt that at too.

"I’ve a brother and three sisters and they would come and bring their kids, there are 38 grandchildren and great-children.

"We had rabbits, even a billy goat and it was great. But now it’s changed with all this crime and with the new little ones you think twice. There’s been break-ins for ten years and I’d say it’s really got worse for arson attacks in the past six years.”

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact PC Jane Faulkner of Stockton Police on the non-emergency 101 number or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.

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