Man held after siege at Merseyside factory

By Lucy Collins
Friday 06 March 2009 01:00

A man was arrested yesterday following a siege at a factory in St Helens, Merseyside, and was being held on suspicion of holding three people captive and for making threats to kill.

Police said the 35-year-old man released the three people within an hour.

Bomb squad officers and dozens of emergency crews were called to the Alfred Knight metal works in St Helens after a man acting suspiciously entered the premises. Staff fled the factory, a converted suburban house, and employees from neighbouring businesses and people who live near by were also evacuated.

The man surrendered to police at about 5pm following negotiations. The three hostages were not harmed during the incident. Superintendent Peter Edge said: "Merseyside Police can confirm a 35-year-old man, believed to originate from central Africa, was arrested... after making threats at a St Helens company. He was also believed to be in possession of a suspicious package.

"No one has been injured during the incident and the site will remain cordoned off until a search of the premises has been completed. The man remains in police custody and is currently being questioned by detectives."

Earlier in the day, Gaynor Tomlinson, who lives near the scene, said a policeman outside her house told her the suspect entered the works with explosives "strapped to his back". Mr Edge said the man was contained in the building and trained negotiators were called in to speak to him "in respect of his intentions".

Bomb disposal teams from the Royal Logistics Corps were seen leaving the area last night along with police cars and ambulances.