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Death of seven year-old Joel Urhie in Deptford fire

Posted on: Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Detectives have launched a murder investigation after a boy died in a fire in Deptford on Tuesday (7 August). 

 

Police statement:

An arson investigation has been launched following the death of a seven-year-old boy in a fire at a residential address in Deptford.
Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan, of Lewisham Police, said: “We continue to work with our London Fire Brigade partners to establish the circumstances around this tragic death.
“Road closures and a crime scene remain in place at this time and we appreciate the cooperation of local residents in the surrounding area.
“Our thoughts are with the child’s family and specialist officers are providing them with support and will be keeping them informed as the investigation progresses.
“At this early stage there are a number of possible lines of enquiry however officers retain an open mind with regard to motive.
“I appeal to anyone who has information concerning this fire to contact police without delay.”
Police were called to Adolphus Street, SE8, at 03:25hrs on Tuesday, 7 August to reports of a residential fire.
Officers attended along with the London Ambulance Service and six fire engines from the London Fire Brigade.
Two women jumped from a first floor level prior to the arrival of emergency services. They were both taken to a central London hospital where their injuries are not life-threatening.
The London Fire Brigade extinguished the fire.
The body of a seven-year-old boy was found inside the property.
His next-of-kin are aware.
The fire has been deemed as suspicious.
Officers from Lewisham investigate supported by the Homicide and Major Crime Command.
At this early stage there have been no arrests.
Enquiries continue.
Anyone with information on this fatal fire is requested to call police on 101 quoting CAD 933/07Aug or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also tweet @MetCC.

 

UPDATE at 5.24pm:

The following statement was read out by Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan of the Met's South East Borough Command Unit today (Tuesday, 7 August):
"This morning, shortly before 3:30am, police officers and emergency service colleagues from the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service attended an address in Adolphus Street, Deptford following reports of a fire within a house.
"Within that house they found the body of seven-year-old boy Joel Urhie who had died as a result of the fire.
"Two women, Joel's mum and sister, managed to escape the flat by jumping from the first floor of the building. They are currently being treated in hospital and their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
"There were no other occupants in the address.
"This is a truly shocking incident and I extend my sympathies, along with those of the other emergency services, to Joel's family and friends at this tragic time.
"We are working closely with the London Fire Brigade to establish the exact cause of the fire and are now treating this as a murder investigation. Detectives from our Homicide and Major Crime Command are in the process of taking over the lead for this investigation.
"Our work will continue at the scene and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their support as we do this.
"I would also like to stress that the local community can help us piece together what happened in the early hours of this morning.
"I would directly appeal to anyone who was in the area and saw anything suspicious at around 3:30am, or who has any information about who was responsible for starting the fire, to contact police immediately.
"An innocent seven-year-old boy has lost his life in what should have been the safest place for him - his own home. The pain his family must be enduring at this time, is difficult to imagine.
"I would ask if you have information that would assist us to understand what has happened please contact our incident room on 0208 345 3715 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

UPDATE on 8 August:

Detectives from the Mets Homicide and Major Crime Command appeal for witnesses to come forward as the investigation continues into the death of seven-year-old Joel Urhie in Deptford.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Wrigley, who is leading the investigation, said: “This horrific incident has left a family shattered and the tragic loss of such a young life in suspicious circumstances resonates throughout the community in Deptford.
“Officers are working hard to establish the circumstances of the fire and continue to follow a number of lines of enquiry. At this early stage we retain an open mind concerning motive.
“I am aware that there is much speculation around possible motives relating to this incident. At this early stage in the investigation speculation is not helpful. However, I urge anyone witnessed something suspicious or has information on who may have started the fire to contact the incident room without delay.”
Police; London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service attended a residential address in Adolphus Street, Deptford on Tuesday, 7 August, shortly before 3:30am, following reports of a fire.
The body of seven-year-old Joel Urhie was found inside the house.
Also at the address at the time of the fire were Joel's mum and sister. They both escaped the fire by jumping from a first floor window. They were taken to hospital for treatment where the mum remains. The sister has since been discharged. There were no other occupants at the address at the time of the incident.
A post mortem conducted at St Thomas’ hospital on Wednesday, 8 August found Joel’s injuries to have been consistent with fire and smoke inhalation.
DCI Wrigley added: “Our sympathies are with Joel's family and friends at this tragic time as they struggle to come to terms with their loss.
“I would directly appeal to anyone who was in the area and saw anything suspicious at around 3:30am, or who has any information about who was responsible for starting the fire that claimed to the life of an innocent child, to contact police immediately.”
Anyone with information should contact the incident room on 0208 345 3715 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

UPDATE on 11 August:

Police investigating the death of seven-year-old Joel Urhie following a fire at a residential address in Adolphus Street, Deptford, on Tuesday, 7 August, have made two arrests.
Two males, [A] aged 21 and [B] aged 29, were arrested on the morning of Saturday, 11 August at residential addresses in Lewisham.
They were arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson with intent to endanger life.
They have been taken to a south London police station, where they currently remain.
Police continue to ask anyone with information to contact the incident room on 0208 345 3715 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.  

UPDATE on 12 August:

They have subsequently been released under investigation pending further enquiries.  

UPDATE on 17 September:

The family of a seven-year-old arson victim has paid public tribute to him for the first time as they joined with police in a new appeal for public information in a bid to find those responsible for setting fire to his family home.
Joel Urhie, who lived at the house in Deptford with his mother and older sister Sarah, tragically died as a result of the deliberate attack in Adolphus Street, Deptford shortly before 3.30am on Tuesday, 7 August. His mother and Sarah, 20, managed to escape by jumping from first floor windows.
Tega Majoroh, 18, who was Joel's cousin, spent a lot of time with the little boy and frequently stayed with the family at the house targeted. Today [Monday 17 September] she paid tribute to the little boy she saw as a younger brother, as she joined officers investigating the attack to make a plea for help from anyone who can shed light on the terrible crime that took his life.
Tega said: "Joel has been gone for a while now, but it seems like just yesterday he was taken from us. He brought so much light to the family without even knowing it. His death has been a tragedy to us all. His absence has caused a huge sense of loss. As young as he was, he meant so much too so many."
The student, who is about to begin an economics degree at university and has also been a youth worker, said that she was 'blessed' to have spent so much time with Joel and paid touching tribute to the first time she met him.
"He was more my little brother than my little cousin. I remember when he was three and couldn’t say my name for ages. I would come to the house and say ‘Hi Joel.’ He'd say ‘Hi Tera’ and run to me with so much happiness," she recalled.
"Joel was like the sunshine after rain. Coming home to him was like a breath of fresh air. He was always happy and always made others around him happy. There are so many memories that I will always treasure - and there will always be a hole in our hearts where his memory will lie."
Tega urged any members of the public who know anything to look to their consciences and come forward to assist the police to help them bring the perpetrators to account.
She said: "As someone who’s lost a brother and for the sake of his mother and sister, we are appealing to anyone who has a heart and has any knowledge of what happened to call the police and give any information they have."
Joel's mother Iroroefe Urhie, 49, who spent a month in hospital recovering after being badly injured in the escape from the burning house, joined Tega in paying tribute to her son.
She said: "Joel was the sweetest most caring little boy you could ever meet. He was so intelligent and always curious to learn new things. He never complained about anything.
Iroroefe remembered how much he loved going to church, and how he led the Praise and Worship at the weekly bible study group the mother and son used to attend.
She added: "Joel always wanted people around him - that was why we used to go to the park a lot so that he could make new friends. His smile and laugh would light up a room and he was so full of life and energy."
A spokesperson from Joel's school, Tidemill Academy, where he was due to start Year Three this September, also added their tribute.
They said: “We were deeply saddened by the news of Joel's death. He was a kind, happy and smiley boy who loved running around and playing with his friends.
"The pain and suffering that his family are going through now is unimaginable, and I would urge anyone in the community who knows anything at all about what happened, to get in touch with the investigation team. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this extremely difficult time.”
Detectives from the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command have been working hard to establish the circumstances of the fire since it took place just over six weeks ago.
Detective Inspector Alison Cole, from the investigation team, said: “This horrific incident has left a family shattered and the tragic loss of such a young life in these circumstances has deeply affected the whole wider community in Deptford.
“We are very grateful that Joel's family whilst still grieving have been willing to come together with us today to strengthen our fresh appeal to the public for any witnesses, or any information, that might possibly assist us.
"Did you see anything suspicious in or around Adolphus Street on Tuesday 7 August in the hours prior to the attack, or have you heard anything about how it might have started.
"Even the smallest piece of information could help us at this stage so I would urge you please to contact the incident room without delay. If you do not want to talk to police you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously.
"This devastating fire claimed the life of an innocent child, a loss his family will never get over, and we desperately need your help to bring those responsible to justice."
Joel's body was found by emergency services who attended the scene in the upstairs bedroom he shared with his mother. A post mortem conducted at St Thomas’ hospital on Wednesday, 8 August found his injuries to have been consistent with fire and smoke inhalation.
Anyone with information should contact the dedicated incident room on 020 8345 3715 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.  

 




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