Family pay tribute to “sweetest most caring little boy” who was murdered in Deptford arson attack as police make fresh appeal for information

By Calum Fraser

The grieving family of a seven-year-old who was murdered in an arson attack have pleaded with the public to help them catch the killers.

Joel Urhie, who lived in Deptford with his mother and older sister Sarah, died when their home in Adolphus Street was targeted by arsonists at around 3.30am on Tuesday, August 7.

Joel’s mother, who is still in hospital after jumping from the first floor of the house to escape the blaze, paid tribute to her son.

Iroroefe Urhie 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.”

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

He was then sent back to prison less than a week after the arson attack.

Iroroefe, 49, who spent a month recovering after being badly injured in the escape from the burning house, said: “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.”

Tega Majoroh, 18, who was Joel’s cousin, spent a lot of time with the little boy and often stayed with the family at the
house, pleaded with the public to help them find the killers.

From L-R: Tega, Joel’s mother Iroroefe Urhie, Joel and his sister Sarah.

She said: “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.”

Two men, aged 21 and 29, were arrested on August 11 in connection with the incident. But they were later released on bail.

Tega said that she was blessed to have spent so much time with Joel.

The student, who is about to begin an economics degree at university and has also been a youth worker, 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 to so many.

“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 that I will always  treasure – and there will always be a hole in our hearts where his memory will lie.

“He was more of my little brother than my little cousin. I remember we met when he was three. He 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.”

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, August 8 found his injuries to have been consistent with fire and smoke inhalation.
Joel’s cousin Tega pays tribute to “sweetest most caring little boy”
A spokeswoman from Joel’s school, Tidemill Academy, Giffin Street, Deptford where he was due to start Year 3 this  September, also added their tribute.
She 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.”
First floor bedroom in Adolphus Street after fire tore through Urhie family home
Detective Inspector Alison Cole, from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command 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 while still grieving have been willing to come together with us 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,  August 7 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.
“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.”
Anyone with information should call the incident room on 0208 345 3715 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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