Home Barking, Dagenham, & Surrounding Areas Cooper ‘pushed lit firework into Romford home and killed woman, 88’

Cooper ‘pushed lit firework into Romford home and killed woman, 88’

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Kai Cooper fireworks

Kai Cooper, 19, of Cleeve Court, Leatherhead and a 17 year old who cannot be named, have been sentenced for a range of violent charges related to a ‘crime spree’ in the Romford and Ilford areas of Greater London.

Kai Cooper, 19, announced that “people are going to be terrorised tonight” before going on a crime spree in East London with explosives and lighters. Along with a 17-year-old, he was heard saying he wanted “something that is going to go far and quick.”

Josephine Smith, 88, is said to have been sleeping when a Megaburst firework set off two consecutive explosions that set fire to her Romford house on October 28, 2021. The two teenagers placed a firework into her home through her letterbox. She was unknown to them.

Before he and the other youth began throwing fireworks at people and cars, he told his girlfriend, who testified against him, “I’m trying to get fireworks, let them off at people.” When they approached Mrs Smith’s home on Queens Park Road and started the deadly fire, they were complete strangers to her.

In their spree of unprovoked violence in the area, they beat another female stranger with a pole in high road, Ilford.

The court heard that on October 27, the two were involved in a videotaped attack on a young lady. The younger defendant can be seen fighting with a young woman while wielding a long pole before “lashing out and striking her as she was putting her hands up to shield her face” in one 11-second video.

Cooper can be heard saying “smoke her, smoke her” while recording the video. In a second video, the lady is on the ground while Cooper attacks her with his boots, shouting, “Just one tap in her face bro, go on, do it, do it, one tap in her face, quick ting boot in her face.”

Cooper was found guilty of manslaughter and arson with reckless disregard for life after a trial at the Old Bailey, and has now been sentenced to six years and six months in prison, with an extra two years on licence. He had previously pled guilty to an assault by beating charge the day before Ms Smith’s death, in which a young lady was assaulted with a pole in Ilford.

Meanwhile, his accomplice was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for the same three offences.

Prosecutor Heidi Stonecliffe KC had told jurors: “It is a tragically random incident. They acted as a team as they did this, with Kai handing [the other defendant] the fireworks before they were lit and Kai encouraging [other defendant] to do this. It was the precursor for the altogether more tragic events that occurred shortly afterwards.”

Earlier that evening, the two teenagers set off fireworks in the street, near a pub, takeaway shop, and pub, as well as near cars and pedestrians. Ms Stonecliffe went on to say:

“By the time the fire service had arrived, the property had filled with smoke and Mrs Smith was found, already sadly deceased, in the upstairs bedroom of the house. Efforts made to revive her were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at 11.09pm.”

Mrs Smith’s family members, including her granddaughter, arrived at the scene as she was being taken away from her home and watched the resuscitation efforts. Her death was attributed to smoke inhalation.

Cooper and the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had already fled the scene. On October 30, they returned to her home, where fire personnel and forensics remained, before proceeding to a nearby park.

They were caught a few days after the event, and jurors were told there was no doubt Cooper had purchased the fireworks and lighters, had been there at the scene, and had slipped one through Mrs Smith’s mailbox.

He said that the two had “mischief in mind” when they set out to buy fireworks that evening and added: “Your wanton and reckless conduct led to the death of a vulnerable and much-loved person.”

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