BY CALUM FRASER
Police have renewed their appeal for information into the death of a seven-year-old in a house fire.
The Met are pleading with anyone who saw anything suspicious around Deptford, at 3.30am on Tuesday, to come forward.
The body of seven-year-old Joel Urhie was found inside a burnt out house in Adolphus Street 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.
The police have now opened a murder inquiry into the incident.
Joel’s father John arrived at the scene on Tuesday. 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.
A friend who went to Deptford Green School in Edward Street, Deptoford 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 in Adolphus street in dedication to the Tidemill Academy Primary school pupil.
One note said: “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