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Arsonist sets fire to taxi in Norman Road, Whitstable

By Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Footage has emerged showing the moment a passer-by set fire to a cab parked in a driveway.

Lou Osman was with friends at home in Norman Road, Whitstable, at about 12.15am on Friday when his dad's taxi was engulfed in flames.

Police are now investigating after the shocking CCTV emerged appears to show a man deliberately setting fire to the car.

Mr Osman, 18, said: "My family was away and I had a free house, so I had a few friends over for some drinks and to chill.

"We were just in the garden sitting listening to music, when one of my friends came running out and he was like 'there's a fire outside'.
"I ran around and realised it was our car that was on fire, and I called the fire service.

"There were probably 10 or 11-feet tall flames coming from the back of the car.

"Every now and then there was an explosion as the tyres popped and that kind of thing."

CCTV footage from outside the family's home shows a hooded suspect strolling along the residential street, before stopping outside the Osmans' home and walking onto their driveway, where two cars are parked.

It then shows him squatting down beside the taxi for almost a minute, apparently trying to light a fire.

When flames begin to burst from under the car, he stands up and walks casually off in the opposite direction.

The aftermath of the fire. Pic: Lou Osman (13470499)
The aftermath of the fire. Pic: Lou Osman (13470499)

Mr Osman said it did not initially cross his mind that the blaze might have been started deliberately.

"I honestly thought maybe it had accidentally set fire," he said. "I thought maybe it had been a cigarette or the fan in the car.

"I just find it crazy - the man does it so casually. He probably thought nobody was in.

"The front of the car looks fine, but the back and the inside is completely burnt. If the front had caught fire, the engine would have gone and that would probably have caused a huge explosion.

"The other car is a bit burnt too."

The aftermath of the fire. Pic: Lou Osman (13470495)
The aftermath of the fire. Pic: Lou Osman (13470495)

Mr Osman, who suffers from anxiety, says the incident has left him feeling uneasy.

"It's just messed up, knowing someone's gone to the car and tried to blow it up," he said.

"But it could have been so much worse. Luckily, I was awake and the fire service got here quickly.

"Luckily, everyone is safe and nobody was hurt."

The aftermath of the fire. Pic: Lou Osman (13470487)
The aftermath of the fire. Pic: Lou Osman (13470487)

Police confirmed they are investigating the fire.

A spokesman said: "The fire was extinguished by crews from Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the cause is believed to be suspicious.

"Initial enquiries to establish the full circumstances are underway."

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