1. ITV Report

Polish family's shed targeted in alleged racist arson attack

The family, who have lived in the UK for 10 years, received a threatening note. Credit: Ewa Banaszak

A Polish family were sent a hate-filled letter telling them to "go back to their own country" after their home was struck by arsonists.

A shed was set alight at the family home in Efford, Plymouth late on Wednesday night which destroyed the structure and spread to the house belonging to computer engineer, Adam Ablamowicz.

His eldest daughter, Ewa Banaszak, 22, who lives nearby raised the alarm after seeing the fire from her upstairs window.

As Mr Ablamowicz battled the flames with a hose, his 14-year-old daughter discovered the menacing note on the front doorstep.

Ms Banaszak shared images of the destruction on Facebook writing: "This is so sad and disturbing to go through, especially that we have been here for 10 years working, studying and putting [in] all that we can."

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The fire spread to the house causing the bathroom window to shatter and downpipes to melt.

Ms Banaszak said that the family had been the victim of a number of racist incidents over the last few days and said that the EU referendum is a "big part of what has happened".

Her 11-year-old twin brothers faced verbal abuse at a nearby park,. she said, when a group of children threw stones at them and shouted: "Go back to your f***ing country."

Ewa Banaszak said the family had been on the receiving end of a number of racist incidents after the EU referendum. Credit: Ewa Banaszak

She told the Plymouth Herald: "We've never got to the point where someone has taken action. It was more of a verbal problem in the past.

"I do think the EU Referendum is a big part of what's happened.

"We've had problems for the last two years, only verbal and no action.

"It's small-minded people who don't know what they're talking about.

"But since the referendum it's all escalated. I know there's been writing on the wall next to the Polish shop and things have happened in other parts of the country and not just towards Polish people."

Devon and Cornwall have launched an investigation into the fire which they confirmed was arson and are appealing for information.

The letter has been taken by police for forensic examination.

I am appalled by this crime and incidents of hate such as this are treated as a priority by my officers. Hate crime has no place in Plymouth and we will do everything possible to locate those responsible for the fire and the disgusting letter sent to the victims.

We believe this fire was started deliberately, was racially motivated and could have endangered the lives of the occupants. We are asking for the public’s help in this matter as someone will know who is responsible.

– Inspector Darren Green
  • Anyone with information that can help the police can call 101 quoting crime log CR/045564/16, email or can be passed on anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.