Riot 'arsonist' in court over Croydon blaze

A man has appeared in court accused of starting a fire that destroyed a family furniture shop during the riots last year.

Gordon Thompson, 33, is charged with setting a sofa alight at House of Reeves in Croydon, south London, and causing a blaze so fierce that buildings on the opposite side of the road caught fire.

Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow told jurors at the Old Bailey that Thompson was one of the first into the building. He allegedly stole a laptop from the shop, before leaving, then re-entering and setting fire to the store.

Mr Glasgow said: "The ensuing fire razed the building to the ground. Such was the ferocity of the blaze that embers and heat from the flames set fire to property on the other side of the road and numerous residents were forced to flee their homes for their lives. Indeed one young woman became trapped inside her flat and was forced to jump from a first-floor window into the arms of rescuers."

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.