Arsonist jailed over furniture shop
A man with 20 previous convictions has been jailed for 11-and-a-half years for starting a massive fire that destroyed a 140-year-old furniture shop during last summer's riots.
Gordon Thompson, 34, was jailed at the Old Bailey for causing the huge blaze at House of Reeves in Croydon, south London on August 8 last year. The fire was so fierce that it spread to buildings on the other side of the road, leaving residents there to flee for their lives and with their homes destroyed.
In total the Reeves family have lost an estimated £3 million and a judge told Thompson the trauma they had suffered was "inestimable".
The blaze came at the height of last summer's unrest, and images of the enormous fire were some of the most dramatic of the riots.
Thompson has 20 previous convictions, including one for violent robbery, but said he became involved in the riots because he was depressed about his divorce.
In a victim impact statement, Trevor Reeves said: "The total destruction of the site has been a bereavement to me, I just can't understand what I have done to make someone do this to me."
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow said of Mr Reeves's father Maurice: "He had worked in the shop since the age of 16. It was his life and, as he regarded it, his life had now been destroyed."
The shop had been in the family for generations, and Mr Reeves said: "I wonder with despair what my father and grandfather would make of the situation."
Thompson, of Waddon Road, went on a rampage through Croydon on August 8, looting Iceland and House of Fraser before turning on Reeves. He brazenly posed for a photographer during the crime spree and ended up on the front page of a local newspaper.
Thompson was given 11-and-a-half-years for arson, two years each for two counts of burglary, and three years for a third count of burglary, to run concurrently.