A wilful attempt was made during Tuesday night to burn down the Christchurch Resident Magistrate’s Courthouse. At ten minutes to five in the afternoon the bailiffs office was locked up, and at half past seven the assistant bailiff, when passing the back of the Courthouse, looked in through the window' of this office, and saw that everything w'as safe. At ten minutes to eight on Wednesday morning, when he opened the outer door, he perceived a strong smell of something burning, and on hastening to open the door of the bailiffs department, saw smoke proceeding from underneath a large heap of burnt paper, which had been stacked on a chair in front of a table and near the wooden linin" of the western side of the room. The scat of the chair, which had been of wood, w’as completely burnt out, a little of the lining of the wall burnt, and a portion of the leg of the table. All the pigeonholes on this table, which had contained between 250 and 300 summonses of various kinds, to he heard within the next few days, had been cleared and heaped on this chair, in addition to between 700 and 800 forms, and then evidently set fire to. An end window looking out from this table was unfastened and it appeared as if the incendiary, after completing his work, had got on to this table, and in getting out through the window had pushed the pigeon-hole frame on one side. The officials were in the habit of leaving keys of some of the offices hanging in the lobby for the accommodation of those who might have to return to work at night, and this must have been known to the perpetrator, as the door had been opened with the ordinary key. From the large heap of tinder left, and its proximity to such dry w'oodwork, the great wonder is that the flames did not spread. The loss of the documents destroyed will ■ occasion the department and the public a a good deal of inconvenience.
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