Police now believe that The Merry Harriers fire last Sunday was started deliberately and are appealing for witnesses to a break-in preceding the arson attack.
A door was forced to gain entry to the pub which closed unexpectedly a week earlier,
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police are investigating what appears to be a deliberate fire at the empty Merry Harriers pub in Clayhidon. Fire engines attended at around 11pm on Sunday (July 11) to tackle the blaze and discovered that the door had been forced to gain entry and a fire had been started.
“Police would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time or who saw anything suspicious to contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org quoting crime log CR/046969/16.”
Six fire engines attended the scene together with police and ambulance services. By the time the engines arrived the fire had caused severe damage to both the ground and first floors. The entrance porch leading to the ground floor restaurant area is now completely gutted and it is understood that structural damage may have been caused to the building.
Wesley (Wayne) Sneijder became landlord of the pub in 2015, taking over the lease from Reg and Leslie Payne.
Last week the pub closed without warning and security fencing was erected across the entrance to the car park. A notice on the fencing said that due to ‘unforeseen health issues’ the pub was closed and would not reopen ‘for the foreseeable future’.