Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reeves Arsonist Jailed for 11 Years

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reeves Arsonist Jailed for 11 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Cheston Courts Correspondent

THE looter who started the fire that destroyed a family-run furniture shop during the London riots was jailed for 11 and a half years today.

Gordon Thompson, 34, caused [pounds sterling]3 million of damage when he used a lighter to set fire to a sofa in the window display in the 140-year-old House of Reeves store in Croydon.

The ensuing blaze was so fierce it spread to properties on the opposite side of the road, sending residents fleeing and forcing some to jump for their lives.

Trevor Reeves, 56, and his 81-year-old father Maurice were at the Old Bailey today to see Thompson sentenced.

Judge Peter Thornton QC told him: "The fire was devastating, as you must have realised to some extent that it would be. But the real cost was in human and emotional terms.

"The Reeves family lost their historic business, something they and generations before them had lived and worked for all their lives.

"The loss was priceless, the trauma they have suffered inestimable.

"It was extreme good fortune -- and no thanks to you -- that nobody died or was seriously injured. But they will be scarred emotionally for a long time."

The burned-out store has been demolished but the company -- which has been in the Reeves family for five generations -- is still trading from refurbished premises across the street. Speaking outside court, Mr Reeves senior said: "He's done so much harm for everybody and we have to fight back and that's what we are doing. That's the typical Reeves family." He revealed that he accepted an apology that Thompson had offered.

He said: "I think that's accepted by the family, it's accepted by me and good for him."

His son said: "My father has built that store up, that store was his baby. I lived there as a child, played there as a child, I lived there as an adult, I worked there for most of my adult life, and when you lose something like that it's like a bereavement."

He went on: "The justice system now has to do its job. The justice system is there to stop him doing it again.

"It has now got 11-and-a-half years to rehabilitate a repeat offender and to stop him doing it again. …

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