Tower block fire- woman guilty of double manslaughter

Fatal Fire at Marine Tower Deptford Febrary 2011. Photo: Adrian Pablo

Woolwich Crown Court heard that Sandra Clarke, 50, started the fire in Marine Tower on the day there was due to be a county court hearing over her rent arrears.Kunaliny Alagaratnam, 42, and her cousin Santhirapathy Tharmalingham, 59, were overcome by smoke in a neighbouring flat on the 16th floor and were later found dead on February 6 last year.

Clarke denied the charges and said someone else got into her council-owned accommodation and started the fire while she was out.

The Prosecution told the jury that Clarke bought two cans of lighter fuel from a local shop, started two separate fires in her flat – number 61 – at the top of the tower block.

The flames spread across the whole floor. The two victims, originally from Sri Lanka, called 999 before being overcome by smoke. Clarke has been remanded and will be sentenced on June 1.

Detective Chief Inspector Amanda Hargreaves, of Scotland Yard’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said:  “I am pleased that Clarke has been convicted today and I hope that she will spend the considerable time she will serve in prison reflecting on how her actions ruined the lives of two families.”

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