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'Joel was like the sunshine after rain': Tributes paid to 7-year-old London boy killed in arson fire

Joel Urhie died as a result of a deliberate arson attack on his home on 7 August.

Joel and his mother Iroroefe Urhie
Joel and his mother Iroroefe Urhie
Image: Met Police

 THE FAMILY OF a seven-year-old arson victim in London has paid public tribute to him for the first time as police launch a new appeal for information into the incident. 

Joel Urhie, who lived at a house in Deptford with his mother and older sister Sarah, died as a result of a deliberate attack on the property shortly before 3.30am on Tuesday 7 August. 

His body was found by emergency services who attended the scene in the upstairs bedroom he shared with his mother.

A postmortem examination conducted on St Thomas’ Hospital the following day found his injuries to have been consistent with fire and smoke inhalation. 

His mother Iroroefe Urhie (49) and Sarah (20) managed to escape the building by jumping from the first-floor windows. 

Joel’s mother, who spent a month in hospital recovering after being badly injured in the escape from the burning house has today paid tribute to her son. 

“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,” she said. 

She remembered how much he loved going to church, and how he led the Praise and Worship at the weekly bible study group the pair used to attend. 

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), Joel’s cousin, said she saw the boy as a little brother, as she joined officers investigating the attack to make a plea for help from anyone who can shed light on the crime. 

“Joel has been gone for a while now, but it seems just like 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,” she said. 

She added that she was “blessed” to have spent so much time with Joel and paid tribute to the first time she met him. 

“He was more my little brother than cousin. I remember when he was three and 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,” she said. 

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 I will always treasure.

Majoroh urged any members of the public who knows anything to come forward to assist the police to help them bring the perpetrators to account. 

Call for information

The Met Police has called for anyone with information to make contact with its incident room as soon as possible. 

“Did you see anything suspicious in or around Adolphus Street on Tuesday 7 August in the hours prior to the attack, or have you heard anything about how it might have started,” Detective Inspector Alison Cole, from the investigation team, said. 

“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,” she said. 

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 is being asked to contact the dedicated incident room on 020 8345 3715, or call UK Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

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