Castle Bytham couple return to their home a year after masked arsonist struck

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A BRAVE elderly couple have returned to their home of more than 30 years, even though the arsonist that set their cottage alight is still at large.

A year on from the devastating attack on the Castle Bytham home of Peter and Sylvia Cox, 83 and 75, police are no closer to tracing the masked fire-starter.

Arsonist wears a Halloween mask to conceal his identity, as he sets fire to an elderly couple's Castle Bytham home.

Arsonist wears a Halloween mask to conceal his identity, as he sets fire to an elderly couple's Castle Bytham home.

They were woken in the early hours on May 4 last year to find their picturesque stone cottage filled with smoke. Unable to escape down the stairs, they were helped through the first floor windows by neighbours.

It was the fourth time the home of Mr and Mrs Cox was targeted by the arsonist, who was captured on CCTV as he rode away from the flames on a bicycle wearing a disturbing Halloween-style mask. It is believed a firework was used to start the blaze.

Moving back to the Castle Bytham home where they almost lost their lives was a tough decision to make.

Mr Cox said: “My wife has been very strong. What she said to me, quite sensibly, was we have got to try it.

“At three o’clock in the afternoon it’s fine, it’s at three o’clock in the morning that it’s not so good.”

Following police advice, the couple moved away from the area.

“We have two daughters living in Staffordshire so it was a handy place to go,” said Mr Cox. “It was nice to be near them and also the grandchildren. It stopped you thinking about it.

“It’s the small things you miss, like memories and photographs. Losing those is upsetting because they’re irreplaceable.”

Police have issued a fresh appeal on the first anniversary of the shocking attack, in which the Coxs’ beloved greyhound Toby was killed. Thankfully, their other pet dog survived the blaze. and the trio enjoyed an emotional reunion upon their return to Castle Bytham three weeks ago.

DS Jon Shield, who is leading the investigation, said he wants people to cast their minds back and come forward if they have any information.

He added: “This was an extremely traumatic experience for the couple and they could easily have been killed in their own home.”

Information to police on: 101.