The man responsible for burning down The House of Reeves store on 8th August last year pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey yesterday.
Gordon Thompson, aged 33, changed his plea two days into his
trial after overwhelming evidence against him was presented in court. He also pleaded guilty to violent disorder and burglaries at House
of Fraser and Iceland during the disorder.
The first of his criminal acts that night was a burglary at Iceland on
Surrey Street. He was captured on film with the items he had stolen and that photograph appeared on the front page of the local papers. A short time later, he was again caught on CCTV entering the House
of Fraser store and reemerging five minutes later with armfuls of stolen
goods. And he was then captured on film a third time at Reeves Corner, where he ripped a shattered glass pane from its frame and entered the premises. This time, he stole a laptop computer and on leaving the store he asked another person for a lighter, which he used to set fire to a sofa inside the store. This led to a devastating fire, which destroyed a family business that had stood on that site for over one hundred and fifty years and spread to the residential property on the other side of the road, forcing residents to flee - and in one case jump - for their lives.
He will be sentenced on 11th April, hopefully for a long time.
People have rightly criticised the police for their response on 8th August (though in my view the criticisms should be levelled at the Met corporately for not having sufficient officers with the necessary equipment on duty, rather than the outnumbered and ill-equipped individuals on the ground) but they have done a great job since then bringing the guilty to justice. So far, 416 people have been arrested for their involvement in the disorder, 273 of whom have been charged and work continues.