Man arrested after churches vandalised

05 July 2019

Christiana Asinugo

Fire damage to the door of St Matthew’s, West Ham

Fire damage to the door of St Matthew’s, West Ham

POLICE arrested a man after arson and satanic-graffiti attacks were made on four churches in east London.

Most of the attacks involved only minor damage, but, at St Matthew’s, West Ham, where three arson attempts were made in 24 hours, the main entrance door was badly burned. Also, the Vicar, the Revd Christiana Asinugo, believes that, had a late-night attempt to set fire to a pile of paper at a door beside the vicarage succeeded, she and her daughter could have been trapped as they slept. “We were really blessed,” she said. “God is with us; the whole house could have been on fire. It was very dangerous.”

Earlier, she had found the sign “666” scratched into the church’s main door. “I just prayed over it. I asked: Who is this person? What is happening to you? Initially, I thought it must have been a mentally ill person, but then it happened again. I just thought: if those anti-Christ marks are true, somebody is agitated with the spirit of God, and this is the only way they can react to it.”

At St John’s, Stratford, four doors were scored with pentagrams and “666” signs, before burning paper was pushed up to the main door, scorching the paintwork. The repair bill is estimated at £1000. The Vicar, the Revd David Richards, said: “I couldn’t speculate why they are doing it, but, obviously, we are sad that people, for whatever reason, want to target churches or any place of worship. This is a particularly stimulating place to live, and most of the time we all live in peace. It’s sad that someone feels the need to do this.”

Christiana AsinugoPaper ashes at the vicarage door at St Matthew’s, West Ham

When he heard of the other attacks, his parishioners used fence panels to close off all but one entrance to the building. “We are now considering CCTV,” Mr Richards said, “but it is a large building, and we are open all round.”

Two attacks were aimed at the Cann Hall and Harrow Green Baptist Church, in Leytonstone, where a noticeboard was destroyed and the front doors were badly scarred.

The fourth church targeted was in Forest Gate, when a door was scorched and satanic symbols scratched.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that a 27-year-old man had been arrested on Monday of last week on suspicion of burglary and possession of a bladed article. “He was further arrested on suspicion of arson and criminal damage. . . The fires are being treated as suspicious, and the incidents are being investigated by the north-east area’s Community Support Unit, who are keeping an open mind as to the motive, and whether there is any hate-crime element to the incidents.”

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