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UPDATE: Reeves arsonist jailed for 11.5 years

Published: 11 April 2012
Gordon Thompson, 34, has been sentenced to 11 years and six months in jail for setting fire to House of Reeves in Croydon in what was described in court as "an act of cynical cowardice."
Mr Thompson appeared at the Old Bailey this morning, as did members of the Reeves family who own the 144-year-old furniture store.

Croydon-based Mr Thompson allegedly bragged to passers-by moments after starting the House of Reeves fire, which became one of the emblematic images of the August riots seen all over the world. He admitted to the offence at the Old Bailey in February after changing his plea during his trial.

The defendant is alleged to have run riot through the streets on August 8, and was captured in several CCTV images and phone videos. He was described by a witness as having said "I did that" about the Reeves fire. The blaze was so ferocious it spread to buildings on the other side of the road and lead to a woman having to jump from her first floor flat window to safety.

The court heard in February how Mr Thompson looked on as others smashed their way into the House of Reeves store. Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow allegedly told the court how Mr Thompson was "one of the first to enter the premises." He is reported to have stolen a laptop and on leaving the store asked another of the rioters for a lighter.

Mr Glasgow added: "As soon as he was given one he went back to the shop and set fire to the sofa inside the store window. The ensuing fire razed the building to the ground."

Speaking outside the court Maurice Reeves reportedly described it as a "fair judgement". He had previously spoken out about the traumatising effects of the fire, saying it felt like part of him had died.

Fortunately Reeves' bedroom furniture store on the opposite side of the road was unaffected by the fire and the family have been able to continue trading from this site. The Reeves family were inundated with donations following the fire, which has enabled them to put up a decorative hoarding around the Reeves Corner site, with images showing the business' history.

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