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Two teenagers have been charged with manslaughter and arson in the death of an 88-year-old woman in a house fire in East London.
Josephine Smith was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services were transferred to an address on Queens Park Road, Romford, on October 28 last year.
Up to 40 firefighters rushed to the scene shortly after 10 p.m. after calls from a two-story house in the middle of a burning terrace. Josephine was rescued from the first floor but did not survive.
A firework was recovered from the scene and an autopsy indicated that the cause of her death was smoke inhalation.
Arrested and Charged
Kai Cooper, 18, of Cleve Road, Leatherhead and a 15-year-old from Southend are to appear in custody today at Thames Magistrates’ Court.
They are charged with the involuntary manslaughter of Josephine Smith and reckless arson as to whether life was in danger.
Both were also charged with assault and battery related to another crime on October 27 at High Road, Ilford.
The couple had previously been arrested, along with a third teenager three days after the fire on suspicion of murder.
The third adolescent arrested, an 18-year-old woman, was released without further action in connection with Josephine’s death, but accepted an adult warning regarding possession of class A and B drugs.
Josephine, a grandmother of seven, had lived in the Harold Wood area her entire life, Romford Recorder reported.
Relatives said the mother of five and the grandmother of seven, who separated from her husband 20 years ago, accompanied the children to and from school every day.
She often used to recall her memories of WWII and how she had to run to protect herself from the Doodlebug flying bombs.
Her family added: ‘She was a fantastic and loving mother and grandmother. She was passionate about billiards and darts and she was obsessed with Elvis Presley, who visited Graceland a few years ago. ‘
Kai Cooper Quick and Facts
- Josephine Smith died in a blaze in Queens Park Road, Romford on October 28
- Kai Cooper, 18, from Leatherhead, and a boy, 15, from Southend were charged
- They are both due to appear in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court today