Judge Peter Thornton today sentenced 34-year old Gordon Thompson to 11 and a half years in jail for setting the fire that threatened to destroy a 140-year old Croydon family business and endangered the lives of those living in the immediate area.
House of Reeves was founded
in 1867 by Edwin Reeves and has been a family run business, now in its fifth generation, ever since.
During the trial the court heard that during the riots
of last summer, Thompson had gone on a rampage on August 8 last year. He ended up in House of Reeves, where, according
, he stop a laptop before then setting fire to a sofa.
Judge Thornton said, "Perhaps the most shocking event was that the House of Reeves was set alight and burned to the ground, putting lives at risk.
"This was a deliberate, willful act of shocking, dangerous vandalism.
"The Reeves family lost their historic business, something they and generations before had lived and worked for all their lives. Their loss is priceless. The trauma they have suffered is inestimable."
The fire at House of Reeves spread to neighbouring buildings and close by tram lines. A resident nearby, Monika Konczyk, was forced to leap from the window of her flat in order to save herself from the blaze.
The House of Reeves family business continues to run through a website
and through its other store near to the destroyed one but the Reeves family have said that the destruction of their main store has cost them around £3 million.
Thompson issued an apology to the Reeves family through his lawyer which the family have accepted.
Outside the court Maurice Reeves, who is 80-years old, said
, "He's [Thompson] done tremendous harm for everybody, but we have to fight back and that's what we will do. That's the typical Reeves family.
"He has apologised and it is accepted by the Reeves family and me."