Murder charge months after Doncaster flat fire

The windows of the flat at Callender Court, Middleham Road, after the flat fire on Christmas Eve.
The windows of the flat at Callender Court, Middleham Road, after the flat fire on Christmas Eve.
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A MAN has been charged with murder almost nine months after a body was found in a house fire in Doncaster.

South Yorkshire Police say new information had provided a ‘fresh impetus’ to the inquiry.

Flowers placed at Callender Court, Middleham Road, after the flat fire on Christmas Eve.

Flowers placed at Callender Court, Middleham Road, after the flat fire on Christmas Eve.

Now a suspect has been arrested and questioned about the death of Andrew Massarella and his pet dog in Cantley on Christmas Eve last year.

Mr Massarella, aged 40, was found dead following a fire at his flat at Callander Court, Middleham Road, on Saturday, December 24, 2011.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to the fire at around 3.20am last Christmas Eve.

When firefighters entered the flat to tackle the blaze they discovered Mr Massarella’s body, along with that of his Japanese Akita dog, Kane.

The cause of the fire was initially said to be accidental, probably started by smoking materials.

But after tests and detailed investigations by a pathologist, forensic science officers and fire experts, police said the death was being treated as suspicious.

Former neighbours of Mr Massarella on Callander Court said today they had been shocked at his death last year, and paid tribute to him.

Pensioner Barbara Dennis said: “It was a big shock when he died. I often fed his dog for him and spoke to him quite a lot.”

Another neighbour, Rita Bond, said: “He was very polite and always spoke to me when he saw me.

“He kept himself to himself and there was never any bother. I don’t think he had many visitors to his flat.

“There are quite a few young men in these flats but they are always respectful and helpful to the older people.”

Many of the residents were evacuated on the night of the fire after smoke began to spread along the block.

Fire crews had to break into the flat, which was not fitted with a working smoke alarm.

n Jay Griffiths, aged 25, who was previously known as Jonathan Hancock, of Highbury Avenue, Cantley, appeared before Doncaster magistrates on Wednesday charged with murder.

He has been remanded in custody. He was due to appear at Sheffield Crown Court today.