A man has pleaded guilty to an arson attack on a shopping centre Leicester and will be sentenced for the crime at a hearing in June.
Parvinder Singh, 28, admitted “arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered” when he appeared at Leicester Crown Court last week following the blaze at the Belgrave Commercial Centre in January 2019.
Businesses were destroyed in the fire leaving owners, staff and the community devastated, Leicestershire Police said.
“This was a devastating incident for residents, business owners and workers in the community. Businesses were completely destroyed and it is extremely fortunate that there were no injuries in the fire. Lives could have been lost on that night because of the actions of one man,” said detective constable Gemma Allen from the force.
“I am pleased that a guilty plea has been entered and hope this helps those affected by Singh’s actions as they continue to rebuild from the devastation that was caused that night,” she said.
Singh, from the city of Nottingham in central England, was remanded into custody after entering the guilty plea on April 24 and will be sentenced on June 12.
Police had been called to the fire just after 10 pm on January 6 last year, where the fire service were also in attendance tackling the blaze.
Initial enquiries involving police and fire investigators quickly determined that the fire had been started deliberately and an investigation was launched.
“While people were inside premises affected at the time of the fire being started, fortunately no-one was injured in the incident,” Leicestershire Police said.
Witnesses were spoken to in the area, CCTV was analysed and public appeals were made.
CCTV obtained showed a man with a bag on some crates in the area prior to the fire.
The man was then seen to crouch over before standing up and walking off – noticing a flame coming from where he had been as he left.
The fire was then seen to ignite on the CCTV as the man left the area.
The image of the suspect was issued in a public appeal and through leaflets which were handed out in the area asking for information.
The enquiries led to Singh being identified as the man in the CCTV and work was then carried out to locate the defendant leading to his arrest in October last year, the police said.