London riots: Maurice Reeves speaks of pain at arson by Gordon Thompson

13:59 25 February 2012

Reeves gutted by blaze

Reeves gutted by blaze

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The owner of a family-run furniture shop today said parts of him “had died” after a blaze razed the business to the ground during the riots last summer.

Maurice Reeves spoke outside the Old Bailey after Gordon Thompson, 33, admitted starting the fire that destroyed 144-year-old House of Reeves.

Images of the inferno that ripped through the shop in Croydon, south London, and spread to buildings on the other side of the road were some of the most dramatic from last year’s unrest, on August 8.

Mr Reeves said the blaze was so traumatic, “parts of me have died”.

“It’s difficult to describe because it’s been such a traumatic time for us. The building’s been there all my life. I worked in there every day and when I go into work now the building’s not there.

“You can appreciate it’s still sinking in and today brings all the memories back.”

He added: “It’s with tears in my eyes when I think about it.”

Thompson pleaded guilty to arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, at House of Reeves in August last year.

He also admitted one count of burglary for stealing a laptop from the shop on the same night.

Thompson’s trial for starting the blaze had started at the Old Bailey earlier this week, but at the end of the prosecution opening he decided to admit certain charges.

Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow told the court he had consulted members of the Reeves family about accepting the guilty pleas.

Thompson had already admitted burglary of two shops in Croydon - Iceland and House of Fraser - on the same evening.

Jurors were ordered to find him not guilty of two other charges of violent disorder and arson with intent to endanger life.

Judge Peter Thornton QC warned that Thompson will face “a long sentence of imprisonment”.

The court had already heard that Thompson, of Waddon Road, Croydon, “ran riot through the streets” that day.

When he saw other rioters smashing the front window of Reeves, he climbed into the shop to steal a laptop, and after he left, decided to burn it down.

Mr Glasgow said: “On leaving the store, he asked another of the rioters for a lighter and, as soon as he was given one, went back to the shop and set fire to a sofa inside the shattered window.

“The ensuing fire razed the building to the ground. Such was the ferocity of the blaze that embers and heat from the flames set fire to property on the other side of the road and numerous residents were forced to flee their homes for their lives.

“Indeed one young woman became trapped inside her flat and was forced to jump from a first-floor window into the arms of rescuers waiting below.”

A photographer captured a dramatic image of Monika Konczyk as she hurled herself from the building to escape the fire.

Thompson will be sentenced on April 11.

After the plea Mr Reeves’ son Trevor said: “It’s a momentous day for everybody in Croydon to know that these people can be apprehended.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London news

Monday, February 8, 2016
File photo dated 24/3/2015 of a woman studies the Google driverless car model. Transport bosses in London are in

Ever had that daydream about sleeping on the drive to work? It may be coming true. Google is in ‘active discussions’ with London transport chiefs about bringing its driverless car trials to the capital.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Read more
Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Read more

Latest Tech News

Transport