Police are renewing their appeals for information a year after the murder of a seven-year-old boy in an arson attack on his Lewisham home.
The appeal is supported by a reward made available by the charity Crimestoppers.
On 7 August 2018, emergency services were called to a fire at the house in Adolphus Street, SE8 where Joel Urhie lived with his family.
Joel’s body was found by emergency services in the upstairs bedroom he shared with his mother.
His mother and older sister, who were also upstairs at the property, managed to escape by jumping from first floor windows.
A post-mortem conducted at St Thomas’ hospital on 8 August 2018 found Joel’s injuries to have been consistent with fire and smoke inhalation.
A murder investigation was launched. Police believe the fire was started when a burning item was pushed through the letterbox.
The officer leading the investigation, DCI Mark Wrigley, said: “A thorough investigation has been ongoing for a year now, and this is continuing. I remain committed to finding the person or people responsible for killing Joel.
“The fire service report indicated that accelerant had been used at the front door of the house. We have completed extensive reviews of available CCTV, and this led to us identifying and eliminating a man buying petrol, about whom we issued a previous appeal.
“However, we are pursuing a number of other lines of enquiry, and we are unable to rule in or out any particular motive at this time.
“I do want to remind anyone with information that we are dealing with the death of an innocent seven-year-old child. He should have been able to sleep safely with his mother, but instead he died at a tragically young age due to a callous attack which was doubtless motivated by factors far behind the comprehension of any young child.
“There are people out there who know exactly what went on and who is responsible for Joel’s death. I need them to call me now.”
The little boy’s family have paid tribute to him.
Joel’s cousin Tega Majoroh said: “Joel brought so much light to the family without even knowing it. His death has been a tragedy to us all. His absence has caused a huge sense of loss.
“I would come to the house and he’d run to me with so much happiness. 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 – and there will always be a hole in our hearts.”
Joel’s mother Efe said: “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 and loved going to church.
“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.”
The charity Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information they receive anonymously that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the murder of Joel Urhie.
Call Crimestoppers’ UK contact centre on 0800 555 111 or visit Crimestoppers-uk.org.
The charity guarantees 100% anonymity to everyone who contacts them.
+ Two males, [A] aged 21 and [B] aged 29, were arrested on 11 August 2018 at residential addresses in south London, on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson with intent to endanger life. They were released under investigation pending further enquiries.
+ Anyone with information can also contact the dedicated incident room on 020 8345 3715.