A MYSTERY surrounds CCTV evidence which caused an arson case to be dropped.

As previously reported, the case against the woman charged with burning down two Sandown hotels was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Paula Skelly, 62, of Portsea, denied arson when she appeared at the Isle of Wight Crown Court in January.

The court heard she had allegedly flicked a cigarette end from a balcony, which landed in a pile of rubbish and started the fire.

The fire spread and destroyed both the Tarvic 2 and St Moritz Hotels at Culver Parade in September, 2018.

A trial date was set but the case was dropped due to a lack of evidence.

At the time, a CPS spokesperson said: “The fire report indicated the blaze was caused when an individual threw a cigarette away.

"An individual was filmed on CCTV however this CCTV was not available to the CPS or the defence.

"As a result we had to offer no evidence against the suspect as we were not in the position to determine whether the fire was started by the suspect’s actions."

On further investigation by the County Press, the CPS initially said they had not been handed the CCTV by the police.

However, on enquiring with the police, the Hampshire and IW Constabulary said: "We can confirm that all evidence was provided to the CPS in this case, including the CCTV evidence.

"The decision to drop proceedings sits with the CPS."

The CPS then clarified the police had made the CCTV available, but there may have been other footage showing another guest throwing a cigarette almost at the same time.

This footage has never come to light.

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