CROYDON RIOTS: Jailed: Gordon Thompson

Gordon Thompson

Gordon Thompson

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

Arguably the most recognised face from the riots, Gordon Thompson was jailed for 11-and-a-half-years for setting fire to 145-year-old family furniture store House of Reeves.

The 34-year-old initially denied setting fire to the landmark store which has traded for five generations, but changed his plea days into his trial.

Footage of the historic building on fire became an iconic image of the riots and were beamed around the world.

Prior to starting the fire, Thompson, a dad-of-two, had been looting in Surrey Street. He was caught on CCTV entering the House of Fraser store and re-emerging five minutes later with armfuls of stolen goods.

As he left the father-of-two asked another person for a lighter and set fire to a sofa inside the shop. The attack cost the business around £3m in damage and earning lost, and the intense heat caused £300,000 damage to nearby tramlines.

Thompson was even heard boasting about torching the shop with a witness describing how he ran past saying "it was me, I did that, I burned Reeves Corner."

But when he was arrested six days after the disorder, he didn't brag. He was interviewed on five occasions, but refused to comment each time.

Judge Peter Thornton described Thompson's actions as a "deliberate, wilful act of shocking, dangerous vandalism."

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