Man jailed for setting fires near homeless people as they slept in Croydon
An arsonist who set fire to the belongings of two homeless men near to them as they slept, has been jailed for five years.
Montel Nowhia-Job, 24, set alight the sleeping bags of two rough sleepers in Croydon as they slept.
He was sentenced to five years in custody and a further three years on an extended licence at Croydon Crown Court sitting at Southwark Crown Court today (Monday, 27 September). He had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered in connection with the incidents in the early hours of 10 June 2019.
Nowhia-Job spotted the first victim asleep just before 3am outside the Crisis Centre in Surrey Street, Croydon. He used a lighter to set light to an item before placing it next to the victim and walking off. As the fire took hold, the victim woke up two minutes and 45 seconds later. He managed to put out the flames with his hands and suffered minor burns. However, this victim’s sleeping bag was completely destroyed, along with some items of clothing and important identification documents.
Just over an hour later in nearby George Street, the second victim was targeted as he slept. He awoke to feeling heat on his hoodie and sleeping bag before discovering that his clothes were on fire. The victim managed to pat the flames down assisted by the rain at the time. He suffered minor burns and blisters to his hands. However, the fire destroyed his sleeping bag, clothes and cash.
Nowhia-Job was arrested by police officers two days later having been caught on CCTV wearing a distinctive tracksuit.
Robert Levack, from the CPS, said: “People who are homeless are already vulnerable because they do not have a safe place to call home.
“Montel Nowhia-Job’s actions were frightening, reckless and could have had grave consequences for these men. Although neither of the victims received serious injuries, they have both suffered significant psychological trauma as a result of these arson attacks.
“I hope this prosecution goes some way to reassuring those sleeping rough that they should report crimes against them to the police, and that the CPS will support them by taking their cases to court where there is the evidence to do so.”
The CPS successfully applied for compensation for the victims in this case.
Notes to editors
- Montel Nowhia-Job (DOB: 15/11/1996) is from Croydon
- Robert Levack is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the Crown Court team at CPS London South.