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Hotel fire suspect remains in unit

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

FIRE: Tantons hotel in Bideford after the blaze

A HOTEL guest accused of starting a fire which forced 55 guests to flee in the middle of the night is to remain in custody at a psychiatric unit.

A judge has extended custody time limits on Anthony Westhead, 64, who has admitted starting the fire at Tanton's Hotel in Bideford.

Westhead is being held in a psychiatric unit in his home county of Kent while psychiatrists compile a final set of reports needed for his sentencing hearing.

Judge Mr Phillip Wassall extended custody time limits to September 26, a day after an interim hospital order is due to expire.

Westhead was a guest at the Tantons Hotel in Bideford on May 31 last year when it was damaged severely by fire, causing an emergency evacuation in the middle of the night.

He was one of four people rescued from the roof of the building by firefighters who were called to the scene after guests were heard shouting for help out of the windows.

The fire is estimated to have caused £750,000 damage to the 51 room hotel which has since reopened.

Westhead, of Holywell Avenue, Folkestone, admitted at a earlier hearing that he damaged the hotel, being reckless whether the lives of occupants and residents were endangered.

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