A drunk man set fire to a homeless girl’s sleeping bag and belongings, with a witness saying that, had the girl been in it at the time, she would have died.
Chloe Lees, from Cheltenham, says she thought the ‘smartly dressed’ manwas trying to kill someone when she saw him stagger towards a doorway. She told Gloucestershire Live the man was stood over a sleeping bag muttering to himself before he took a lighter out of his pocket.
“I thought he might be trying to kill the person. I didn’t know at the time whether someone was inside the sleeping bag or not,” she told the paper.
“People were just walking past trying to avoid the man but before I knew what I was doing I was bellowing at him: ‘Stop that at once!'”
As she shouted, the man walked away and she went over to the sleeping bag to check if anyone had been hurt – fortunately no one was in the sleeping bag at the time.
But Chloe, who has previously been homeless herself, said that when she had walked past the spot earlier there was a ‘young girl’ sleeping there.
“I really thought he was trying to kill the poor girl,” Chloe told the paper.
She described the man as 6ft and stocky, saying he was smartly dressed in jeans and a dark coat.
She continued: “When he saw me howling at him he started to snuff out the flames and I heard him muttering to himself, saying ‘scum of the earth’.
“There was a lot of damage done to her belongings but if she had been asleep he could have killed her.”
Chloe says she didn’t contact the police, because she didn’t think they’d care, saying they wouldn’t be interested.
Speaking about what she saw, she said: “This could have been attempted murder. You couldn’t tell whether anyone was inside the sleeping bag or not because her possessions were underneath it. It looked like someone was underneath the blankets sleeping.”
The doorway where the incident took place is reported to be a popular spot for rough sleepers, but it has been vandalised with graffiti telling people not to give money to beggars.