Arson charge after two die in hospice fire

A MAN will appear in court accused of starting a fire that killed two residents at a hospice.

Fire damage at St Michael's Hospice in St Leonards, East Sussex. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Rodney Smith, 67, has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life after a blaze broke out at St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards-on-Sea last Saturday, Sussex Police said.

Patients Jill Moon, 62, and David Denness, 81, suffered smoke inhalation during the fire and later died in hospital.

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Smith, of Quarry Hill, St Leonards, will appear before magistrates on a date to be fixed.

The family of Ms Moon today told of their sadness at losing her in the “tragic” fire.

In a statement released through Sussex Police, they said: “Jill Moon was an amazing person, who will be sadly missed. She was deeply loved by many, and was a deeply loving person.

“After the tragic events of the fire at St Michael’s Hospice, we urge the investigation to be dealt with as quickly and thoroughly as possible so that we can proceed with the commemoration of Jill’s life with the dignity and respect that she deserves.

“We wish to be left to grieve in private and will not be making any further statements.”

In a statement issued through Sussex Police, Mr Denness’s family have previously said: “We would like to thank all the emergency services involved, the staff at the Conquest Hospital and especially the St Michael’s Hospice team.

“Our thoughts are with every family involved in these very sad circumstances. We ask that our privacy is respected and we will not be making any further comment.”