Video footage showing a man who petrolbombed a nursery in Winton, Salford, in April has finally been released.
A heavily-built man, who wears gloves, workboots, a grey boiler suit and a black balaclava, calmly jumps the school fence on Grasmere Crescent in Winton, carrying a can of accelerant and proceeds to light two petrol bombs before throwing them through a classroom window.
Apparently unconcerned by the security lights going on, the man’s masked face is clearly visible.
He walks around the playground looking for an entry before smashing a window with a paving slab and throwing two lit explosives inside.
The video even shows the moment the petrolbombs go through the window, exploding on the floor inside.
Fire crews called police to the scene at around 6.30am on Monday 27 April.
The timestamp on the CCTV footage shows the shocking crime happened at around seven hours earlier, at around 11.40pm on Sunday 26 April.
The nursery was severely damaged in the fire, which erupted in the main room of the building.
Around £20,000 of damage was caused as the blaze burned books, children’s toys, furniture, fancy dress clothes and arts and crafts materials used by the youngest children.
It was only due to the fact that one of the lit bombs hit a radiator, which burst with the force of the throw from outside the building and sprayed water onto the fire, that the whole building did not go up in flames.
At the time, Detective Constable Paul Davies said: “The entire nursery has smoke damage, with toys, soft furnishings and a computer being damaged beyond repair.
“This fire has caused an awful lot of destruction and disruption.
“This nursery cares for children with certain health needs and is the only one of its kind in the area, meaning that these poor children have been left without a school until the damage is repaired.”
SalfordOnline.com broke the news of the arson on Monday 27 April.
The nursery was closed for over a week because of the extent of the damage.
But shockingly, the video footage only emerged today.
Staff at the nursery passed the CCTV to Greater Manchester Police on 28 April, but it was never released to the media.
Manager Jane Abell told SalfordOnline.com today: “We gave the CCTV footage to the poice the day after the arson attack.
“We waited and waited but heard nothing.
“We contacted the police who told us that with the CCTV footage they had drawn a blank and couldn’t take it any further.
“Footage like this could be shown on Crimewatch, but perhaps we are not high priority?”
On 30 April SalfordOnline.com visited the nursery to see the damage first-hand and to talk to heartbroken nursery workers.
Staff are still no closer to understanding the motive behind the shocking attack.
The local community rallied round in the aftermath of the blaze, raising cash and volunteering time to help clean up the mess and broken materials made by the arson.
The pre-school opened in May 2008 and looks after 44 children age two to four in Salford.
At the most recent Ofsted Early Years inspection in June 2014 Westwood Smarties was rated ‘Good’.
Inspectors found that the children were “very settled and content because all staff provide a caring and nurturing environment that effectively promotes their emotional well-being.”
Ms Abell added: “It’s a good job that we kept the original CCTV footage so that other people can see it and hopefully recognise the person who did this.
“I am surprised the police taking it no further but hopefully this new appeal will bring the culprit to justice.”
Anyone with any information is asked to call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.