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Family pay tribute to 'sunshine after rain' Joel Urhie who died in Deptford arson attack

The family of a young boy who died in an arson attack have described him as being like the "sunshine after rain".

Seven-year-old Joel Urhie was in bed at his home on Adolphus Street, Deptford, south-east London, when he was fatally injured in the deliberate attack.

His mother and older sister Sarah were also in the property at the time but managed to escape by jumping from first floor windows.

Joel's cousin Tega Majoroh, 18, said she felt "blessed" to have spent so much time with him.

"He was more of my little brother than my little cousin. I remember when I came back from Nigeria and we met," she said.

"He couldn’t say my name for ages. I would come to the house and say ‘Hi Joel.’ He'd say ‘Hi Tera’ and run to me with so much happiness," she said.

"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 that I will always treasure - and there will always be a hole in our hearts where his memory will lie."

Joel's mum Iroroefe called her son 'full of life and energy'. Credit: Family handout/Met Police

Joel's mother Iroroefe Urhie, 50, spent a month in hospital recovering from serious injuries obtained during her escape from the burning building.

Ms Urhie called her son 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," she said.

"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."

An upstairs bedroom in the Deptford home where Joel lived was seriously damaged in the fire. Credit: Met Police

Joel had been set to start Year Three at his school, Tidemill Academy, this month.

A spokesperson for the school joined Joel's family in paying their respects.

“We were deeply saddened by the news of Joel's death. He was a kind, happy and smiley boy who loved running around and playing with his friends," they said.

"The pain and suffering that his family are going through now is unimaginable, and I would urge anyone in the community who knows anything at all about what happened, to get in touch with the investigation team.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this extremely difficult time.”

The flames have left Joel's family home unrecognisable. Credit: Met Police

Metropolitan Police officers have been investigating the circumstances of the fire since it took place on 7 August 2018.

Images from the seriously damaged property have been released by police in a bid for new information.

Detective Inspector Alison Cole from the investigation team, said: “This horrific incident has left a family shattered and the tragic loss of such a young life in these circumstances has deeply affected the whole wider community in Deptford.

“We are very grateful that Joel's family whilst still grieving have been willing to come together with us today to strengthen our fresh appeal to the public for any witnesses, or any information, that might possibly assist us."

"This devastating fire claimed the life of an innocent child, a loss his family will never get over, and we desperately need your help to bring those responsible to justice."

Anyone with information should contact the incident room on 0208 345 3715 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.