A mother of a seven-year-old who died in an arson attack has pleaded for help in finding her son’s killers four years on from the fatal “atrocious and dastardly” blaze.
Joel Uhrie died in August 2018 after a fire tore through the house where he lived with his mother and older sister in Deptford, south east London.
Ahead of the anniversary of his death, Joel’s mother Iroroefe O Edu appealed for information to help catch his killers who police believe may have been in a criminal gang.
Joel, who was due to start secondary school next month, was found dead in the upstairs bedroom, but Miss Edu and his 19-year-old sister escaped by jumping out of a first-floor window.
The plan was for Miss Edu to cushion his fall, but the youngster never followed.
In a statement issued via the Metropolitan Police, she said: “It will be four years on August 7 2022 since Joel died due to the fire thrown in the house.
“Up until now, the perpetrators of this atrocity and dastardly crime have not been unearthed.
“If you have any information or know anything, or anyone, who may be responsible for causing the fire, can you come forward please?
“With you coming forward, it will prevent the person/persons responsible from doing the same thing to another family.
“Joel was in his own house that is supposed to be a safe environment for him, when the fire incident that claimed his life happened.
“He was only seven years old.”
Throughout the investigation, detectives have had a “suspicion that it might be related to gang membership,” Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers said, but added that they “can’t say for sure”.
He said that regardless of the incentive, Joel’s death was “definitely collateral damage,” adding that the case was tough because it was a “totally innocent little boy in his own home in his own bedroom”.
Undated family handout photo of Joel Urhie with his mother (Family/PA)
Mr Rogers, from the Met’s specialist crime unit, told the PA news agency: “This Sunday marks four years since a young boy’s life was tragically taken.
“Our thoughts are with Joel’s family, and we will continue to provide them with the support they need.
“Joel and his family should have been planning for him to go to secondary school next month.
“They will not have the opportunity to do what many other families will be doing at such a defining moment in a child’s life.
“Someone knows why this happened; I would ask that you search your conscience and do what is right.”
A year after the attack two men were arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson with intent to endanger life.
Both were released with no further action.
Two years later in August 2020, three further men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.
They were released under investigation.
Detectives believe that the amount of time since the attack means witnesses are more likely to speak up.
Mr Rogers said: “This is the time of year when Joel would have been going to senior school.
“The family would have been looking to get new uniforms.
“Hopefully people can reflect and look at their own lives now, look at how their lives have changed over four years and take action.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the dedicated incident room on 020 8345 3715, 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.