EXCLUSIVE: Owner of business at the centre of terrifying petrol bomb assault claims police failed to act despite repeated threats.
By STEVEN DOWNES
Sources present at the incident claim that the initial 999 call to emergency services was made that morning by the man’s own parents, out of fear that Harris was about to commit a terrorist-style “mass killing”.
Harris, 32, appeared at Croydon Magistrates Court yesterday. He has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life, and possession of an offensive weapon.
He was remanded in custody and will next appear at Croydon Crown Court on Wednesday July 14.
According to correspondence between the owner of the business that was the target of the fire-bombing and the local Metropolitan Police commander, which has been seen by Inside Croydon, Harris had given advance notice of his intent to attack the premises of Hydro Cleansing Ltd.
Harris is an ex-employee of Hydro Cleansing. It has been reported that he claims he is owed around £3,000 by the company. Hydro Cleansing Ltd denies any money was owed.
Hydro Cleansing claim that their offices, staff and vehicles have been subjected to a series of acts of vandalism, thefts and assaults over the course of the past year or so.
The business owner, Steve Hoad, yesterday emailed his MP, Elliot Colburn, councillors and Croydon police commander Dave Stringer.
There were more than 30 staff present when the attack began on Wednesday. Most of the staff were evacuated from the building safely, though two needed hospital treatment. Hoad says that three-quarters of his workforce have now resigned their jobs out of fear that the business may be subject to further attacks in the future.
“I have written begging for help from the Metropolitan Police… and everybody ignored me,” Hoad wrote on Thursday.
“Yesterday, all of the threats and the terror of what we have been living through for the last six months came to fruition,” Hoad wrote.
Hoad claims that armed police officers from three boroughs – Croydon, Sutton and Lambeth – were at Beddington Farm Road before Harris arrived.
As well as petrol bombs, Harris is said to have been carrying a machete, a knife and a gun. “With 35 members of staff locked inside the building, he proceeded to throw petrol and destroy equipment in HCL’s yard,” Hoad said.
“Why was the armed police already here? Because John Harris’s parents had phoned the police… to try and stop what he had described to them as a mass killing because of the way that he had been treated whilst working at HCL.”
Hoad suggests that a breakdown in the police communications system meant that officers were unable to inform their colleagues of where Harris was when he arrived at Beddington Farm Road, and that this allowed him onto the premises.
“I’m seriously beyond the point of being angry with everybody employed to look after the general public’s safety,” Hoad said, “and just sadly disappointed that it has all come to this.
“Seventy-five per cent of my staff walked out of the building yesterday because they were petrified. This morning they haven’t returned. I have a bunch of resignation letters.
“I wasn’t asking for any special treatment, I wasn’t asking for anything out of the norm, I was just asking for the police force to assist.”
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