2 arrested after death of 7-year-old in Deptford house fire

By Calum Fraser

Two arrests have been made after a house fire that killed a 7-year-old boy.

The body of primary school Joel Urhie was found inside a burnt out house on Adolphus Street, Deptford, after police, paramedics and firefighters were called out.

Joel’s older sister Sarah and mother Sophie had jumped from the first floor of the house to escape the blaze.

Two men aged 21 and 29 were arrested on Saturday morning, August 11, at a house in South London.

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.

Joel’s father John arrived at the scene on last week after the fire on Tuesday August 7.

Mr Urhie, 54, said: “He was a very lovely boy who was just loving life. It’s a terrible loss.

“He played with everyone around here. It’s terrible, the pain we can never forget.”

One neighbour, Andre Pavanello, said that the house was “engulfed in flames” and that there were people outside “screaming and crying.”

Sarah and Sophie were taken to hospital by paramedics, but Sarah has since been discharged.

Joel’s brother Samuel Urhie, 21, had recently been released after being jailed in 2016 for drug dealing offences.

An “urgent” recall to prison was issued and police arrested Sam on Friday.

A spokesman for the Met said: “A 21-year-old man was arrested by police in Lewisham on Friday August 10 on behalf of the Probation Service following an urgent recall to prison.

“He was not arrested as a suspect in the ongoing murder investigation following the fatal fire in Deptford.”

A friend who went to Deptford Green School with Sarah, but who wished to remain anonymous, said that Joel adored her.

The friend said: “He was just Joel. He’d follow Sarah around all the time. They spent a lot of time together. She’d dress him up. They were happy together.”

Flowers and cards have been laid opposite the house on Adolphus street in dedication to the Tidemill Academy primary school pupil. One note says: “Sleep tight with the angels Joel. Your beautiful smile will be remembered forever, love from Miss Palanques and Miss Lucs.”

The Met said in a briefing on Tuesday it was not ruling out the possibility that the suspected arson attack was gang-related.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Wrigley, who is  leading the murder 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.”

Anyone with information should contact the incident room on 0208 345 3715 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Deptford resident Jenni Poulter has started a crowdfunding page to help the family pay for funeral expenses and other costs that might arise from this tragedy.

To contribute go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/deptfordfire?ref=pageredirect

 

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