Hastings hospice fire: Man arrested on suspicion of murder after death toll rises to three

The fire broke out in the early hours of Saturday and 23 residents and nine staff had to be evacuated from the building

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The Independent Online

A 67-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder as the death toll from a fire at a hospice in Sussex rose to three.

Two residents of the St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards, Hastings, a 62-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man, died in hospital from the effects of smoke inhalation, Sussex Police said yesterday.

The arrested man was from St Leonards and was “known to the hospice”, police said in a statement.

He was charged with suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life on Saturday and was then also arrested on two counts of murder on Sunday.

“Another woman resident aged 78 also died on Saturday following the fire. It is not clear at this stage whether her death is linked to the fire and an investigation is being carried out,” police said.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Saturday and 23 residents and nine staff had to be evacuated from the building.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Preston, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “This is an extremely difficult time for the residents and staff of St Michael's Hospice and for the families of the residents who have sadly passed away.

“We are now treating this as murder and a 67-year-old man arrested on suspicion of arson has now been further arrested on suspicion of two counts of murder.”