- Tower Hamlets
The arsonist responsible for a fire, which destroyed a furniture shop during last summer’s London riots, has been jailed for 11 and a half years.
Gordon Thompson, 34, of Waddon Road, Croydon was sentenced at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to violent disorder and a number of burglaries.
The court heard that Thompson went on a looting rampage through Iceland and House of Fraser before stealing a laptop from House of Reeves and setting fire to a sofa.
CCTV and pictures captured Thompson during his looting spree on the 8th August 2011. He was captured on film with the items he had stolen from Iceland and then captured again on CCTV looting items from the House of Fraser.
A witness said that Thompson had boasted about starting the blaze saying: “It was me, I did that.”
The image of House of Reeves up in flames became one of the most defining images of the London riots. The blaze was so ferocious that surrounding buildings were also set alight forcing residents to flee.
The furniture shop, which was founded in 1867, was razed to the ground – all that was left was a pile of smouldering rubble.
Judge Peter Thornton told Thompson that he had caused “a deliberate, wilful act of shocking, dangerous vandalism.”
Adam Davis QC, acting as defence for Thompson, said that his client had not intended to cause the damage. He said: “He wanted me on his behalf to apologise for what happened as a result of his reckless actions and apologise for the loss that he has caused them.”
Owner of the shop, Maurice Reeves, 80, had worked in the shop since he was 16. The family lost around £3 million as a result of the fire. Speaking outside the court Maurice Reeve said that the family had accepted Thompson’s apology. He said the sentencing of Thompson was “a fair judgement”.
In a statement, Trevor Reeves, son of Maurice, said the destruction was like “a bereavement”. He went on to say “I just can’t understand what I have done to make someone do this to me.”
Superintendant Simon Messinger said; “People all across the country were outraged by the shocking images of local businesses and homes being destroyed by mindless criminals on the 8 August 2011”
“So far over 400 people have been arrested in Croydon for their involvement in the disorder with almost 300 people charged. My officers will continue to trawl through CCTV images and identify all those who were involved.”
He continued: “I would like to thank the public for continuing to assist us with this investigation, without their help positive identifications of many of the images would not have been made.”