Vandals destroy speedway lorry in A38 blaze

The Plymouth Gladiators speedway team have been left gutted after vandals are thought to have set fire to one of their lorries at their home on Wednesday night. While the riders on the track were beaten in the Summer Cup clash at the Birmingham Brummies, it was events back at the Coliseum that had people talking on what was a dark night for the city's speedway club. As the Gladiators were riding the final heats of their 52-38 loss to the Brummies, vandals were setting fire to one of the water trucks within the boundaries of St Boniface Arena, home of the Gladiators.

The truck was totally destroyed and caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, while other vehicles, such as the road grader, had windows smashed and have been targeted by vandals in recent weeks. Damage has also been done to the perimeter fencing. The incident saw thick black smoke pour across the A38 near Marsh Mills.

Pictures and video show the smoke pouring across the road and into the sky, and the lorry was completely destroyed in the blaze. Read More - A38 Marsh Mills fire: Lorry destroyed in major blaze "I am totally disappointed at the current outcome of the recent trespassing issue at the speedway track," Gladiators owner and promoter Mark Phillips said. "It has been a regular occurrence where people have been breaking fences to get in - most of the time it has been youths playing football.

"Unfortunately, we have also had incidents of vandalism and break-ins culminating in last night's fire which destroyed a water truck and it is incredibly disappointing and frustrating. "It is a very big area that the speedway site sits on and of course, there are blank spots in the CCTV, which doesn't help. But we have found some evidence that has been given to the police and we are hoping that, this time, the perpetrators will be caught.

We live in hope. "We even had some people that decided to break in to watch the speedway meeting over the last few weeks and we even caught one perpetrator." Secure fencing, with CCTV monitoring all around the 700m long perimeter of the speedway site would come at considerable cost to the club.

An ideal CCTV system alone is estimated at GBP6,000 and it is a crying shame that people are intent on ruining something when Phillips has put so much of his own money, time and effort into giving Plymouth a speedway team to be proud of. It is not the first time, either. When riding under the name of the Plymouth Devils, vandals broke in and slashed and destroyed the air fences while last year, trespassers broke into the buildings on site, causing damage and stole merchandise.

"It is annoying. It's hard to put a monetary value on it. It's more annoying that pieces of glass have been broken that are irreplaceable which make it annoying for the rest of the machine's life," Phillips added.

"The perimeter fencing needs addressing and that will come at a tremendous cost because of the size of the stadium. That makes it virtually beyond our reach. "We are still planning to continue.

The Gladiators are doing very well and we should be in the play-offs for the league title at the end of the year. It is just frustrating to know that, at any time, people can be trespassing and creating damage and making life difficult."

Fire near the A38Fire near the A38

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: "Crews from Greenbank were mobilised to reports of a fire in the open in a field under the flyover. On arrival crews discovered a flatbed lorry well alight.

"Crews used compressed air foam and breathing apparatus to extinguish the fire. The flatbed was 100% damaged by the fire." Devon and Cornwall Police have been approached for comment.

On track, the Brummies led from the start of Wednesday's meeting with guest rider Erik Riss (14) and Ben Barker (10+1) the Gladiators' top scorers. Despite the defeat, having won 57-32 at home on Tuesday night, the Gladiators do hold an advantage after round one of the Summer Trophy action Birmingham Brummies: Josh Pickering 12+1 (5 rides), Stefan Nielsen 6+1 (4), Paco Castagna 7 (4), Ashley Morris 3+1 (4), Justin Sedgeman 13+1 (5), Jason Edwards 7 (4), James Pearson 4+1 (4).

Plymouth Gladiators: Ben Barker 10+1 (5), Alfie Bowtell 5 (4), Erik Riss 14 (6) Michael Palm Toft (R/R), Hans Andersen 6 (5), Ben Morley 3 (7), Harry McGurk 0 (3). Read more: Boy, 11, airlifted from Bovisand Beach after falling from paddle board

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