Rioter admits starting huge Croydon blaze

The human cost of last summer's riots was brought home yesterday as a shop owner revealed that a part of him "had died" when a looter destroyed his family-run business during the mindless carnage.

Maurice Reeves was speaking outside the Old Bailey as Gordon Thompson, 33, pictured, was warned he faced a long jail sentence after admitting to starting the blaze that destroyed the 144-year-old House of Reeves furniture store, endangering everyone around it, including a young woman who was forced to jump from a block of flats.

Images of the flames that tore through the shop in Croydon, south London, and spread to buildings on the other side of the road were some of the most memorable of the riots.

"It's difficult to describe because it's been such a traumatic time for us," said Mr Reeves. "Today brings all the memories back. It's with tears in my eyes that I think about it." Thompson will be sentenced on April 11.