Damilola Taylor’s father backs appeal to trace arson killer of boy, seven

Damilola Taylor’s father has joined an anniversary appeal to solve the murder of a seven-year-old boy killed in an arson attack.

Joel Urhie died on August 7 2018 after a burning object was pushed through the letterbox of his family home in Deptford, south east London.

His body was found in the bedroom he shared with his mother, Efe, who managed to escape with his older sister by jumping from first floor windows.

Deptford fire
Damilola Taylor’s father has compared the appeal to track the killers of Joel Urhie, pictured, with his own campaign for justice (family handout/PA)

She begged him to jump after her but Joel, who was autistic, was paralysed with fear.

Richard Taylor, whose 10-year-old son was murdered in 2000, urged anyone with information to speak out as Crimestoppers offered £10,000 for information.

“I am very angry, it is the same thing that happened during the Damilola Taylor investigation, the whole community knew about what happened,” he told Channel 4 News.

“For the sake of young boy they should please come and give information.”

Ms Urhie added: “I am begging for people to speak out, if you know you are scared, find a way to convey the message to me, I will go to the police on your behalf, so you don’t need to be scared anymore.”

Describing how she pleaded with her son to jump from the bedroom, she said: “I was screaming, my son, my son, but it was too late.

“That guilt will never leave my mind.

“I still put on my alarm to wake up 7.30 because I feel like I need to get him ready to take him to school.

“So it is just a vicious act done to a family which is not fair.”

She described Joel as “the sweetest most caring little boy you could ever meet”, who loved to play outside and make new friends.

Tory Party Annual Conference
Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor, joined the appeal

Mr Taylor added: “People don’t value life, because of the number of tragedies and stabbings, it is regarded as an everyday occurrence now.”

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Wrigley, who leads the inquiry, said one suspect who was filmed on CCTV buying petrol and tracked through a previous appeal, has been ruled out.

“We are pursuing a number of other lines of inquiry, and we are unable to rule in or out any particular motive at this time,” DCI Wrigley said.

“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 family’s Labour MP, Vicky Foxcroft, called for a serious case review over claims the family asked for help before the attack after Joel’s older brother was threatened.

“If there are things that went wrong well let’s go and make sure we learn the lessons and make sure that, that never happens again,” she said.

Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, the police incident room on 020 8345 3715 or visit Crimestoppers-uk.org.

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