Teens behind bars for causing death of homeless man Sylwester Mendzelewski in Sea Cadets building arson

Police at the house on Davenant Road after the fire

Police at the house on Davenant Road after the fire

First published in News
Last updated
Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant Editor

Teenagers who torched a derelict house with a homeless man inside have been sent to a young offenders institute for three years.

The 15-year-old boy and 17-year-old girl were both found guilty at Croydon Crown Court of arson and manslaughter in June, and on Monday were sentenced for their part in causing the death of Sylwester Mendzelewski

The court head how on June 10 last year the abandoned Sea Cadet Centre in Davenant Road, Croydon, called the 'haunted house' by children locally, was set alight.

The building was being used by rough sleepers including Sylwester Mendzelewski, 35.

The boy, who was aged 14 and the girl who was 16 years old at the time, were joined by a friend who filmed them set fire to paper and a sleeping bag on top of some tyres. The footage was later deleted. The three left the premises a short time later unaware they had started a fire that would ultimately kill Mr Mendzelewski

Fire fighters were called shortly before 3pm and found his lifeless body in a basement room to the rear of the building. He had been unable to flee as his exit was barred by the flames.

In the days following the fire there was a Facebook conversation between the boy and the friend who filmed the incident. The teenage girl also tweeted a friend saying 'Oh my god what have I done' and 'Panicking a lot right now'.

On June 15 both the teenage boy and girl were arrested. They admitted trying to set fire to items within the property.

The pair were charged on September 11.

Detective Sergeant Adam Manley, said: "This is an extremely sad case for all those involved, but more so for the family and friends of Mr Mendzelewski.

"Mr Mendzelewski, who was homeless, had been rough sleeping in the basement of the building but was trapped when the fire took hold. He stood very little chance of surviving the blaze. I believe he took refuge at the rear of the property in the hope of escaping the fire and intense smoke.

"The two young people are not hardened criminals but simply two individuals who did not think through the consequences of their actions that fateful day.

"These two young people were old enough to understand the consequences associated with starting a fire of this nature, but it's only now that this has become a reality to them.

"Both have shown immense remorse but still have to live with the knowledge of what they did and the devastating impact on the lives of others."

Comments (1)

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1:51pm Tue 19 Aug 14

alroutemaster says...

Three years at a holiday camp for arson and manslaughter? This is not justice.
Three years at a holiday camp for arson and manslaughter? This is not justice. alroutemaster
  • Score: 5
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