Two men have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a woman in a vicious arson attack in Woolwich.
They were sentenced at the Old Bailey today (Friday, July 19) for their role in the death of 46-year-old Memunatu Warne.
William (Billy) Smith, 26, of no fixed address was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum on 32 years for murder; 12 years each for two counts of GBH, to run concurrently; and five years for perverting the course of justice, also to run concurrently.
Elliott Robinson, 22, of no fixed address was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 31 years and 12 years each for two counts of GBH, to run concurrently.
That fire was deliberately started with petrol, from outside, by the front door of their home. Mrs Warne was sleeping downstairs and alerted the family to the fire.
Both her cousins, a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s, who were sleeping upstairs tried to reach her, but the smoke was too thick. They had to jump from an upstairs window and received serious injuries as a result.
The fire spread quickly from the front and upwards, and thick black smoke soon filled the house. Despite emergency services attending the scene they were unable to save Mrs Warne. Her body was found in the front bedroom on the first floor.
A post-mortem examination confirmed that she had died from inhalation of fumes from the fire.
Police were called to the fire at 1.23am and officers quickly realised they were dealing with a deliberate arson.
The fire was started by someone who had arrived and left Centurion Square, as the pillion passenger on a motorbike. Witnesses saw him get back onto the motorbike, and saw the bike speed off out of the square.
Homicide detectives began an immediate investigation. As a result of extensive enquires they discovered that the fire was probably organised by Smith. The motive for the attack appears to have been a drugs dispute with a family member of Mrs Warne’s cousins.