Half-brothers face jail over Camberwell toddler death

Siariah Letang
Image caption Siariah Letang was killed in the arson attack

Two half-brothers have been convicted of killing a 19-month-girl in a "horrifying" revenge arson attack.

Siariah Letang was overcome by smoke in a maisonette in Camberwell, south London, on 18 September last year.

Richard Kwakye, 28, of Twickenham, south-west London, was convicted of murder and attempted murder at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

His half-brother Dimitri John-Lewis, 19, from Paddington, was found guilty of manslaughter.

Both men had denied murder and attempted murder, as well as arson.

Their mother Josephine Nicholas, 46, of Paddington, also faces jail after being convicted of perverting justice by giving police false information.

Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, described it as a "horrifying arson attack" and "a truly dreadful case".

The court heard Kwakye started the blaze in revenge for a firearms incident and a custody battle over a child.

He poured petrol supplied by his half-brother through the letterbox and lit it.


The toddler died in hospital from carbon monoxide poisoning while her mother, Ellisha Letang, 24, and grandmother, Brenda Ricketts, 45, suffered severe burns.

An 11-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were also injured in the fire.

Judge Giles Forrester said Kwayke, of Andover Road, and John-Lewis, of Wilmcote House, face long sentences.

Image caption Richard Kwakye (L) and Dimitri John-Lewis (R)

Nicholas faces jail for giving a false alibi to police for Kwayke.

All three were remanded in custody to be sentenced on 28 July.

Kwakye's partner Sacha Williamson, 29, of Twickenham, was cleared by the jury of perverting the course of justice.

After the verdict, Det Insp Nigel Foster, from the Metropolitan Police's homicide unit, said: "This was a cold-blooded and pre-mediated attack with the full knowledge that young children were asleep in the property with the rest of the family.

"It has resulted in the tragic death of a little girl who had yet to reach her second birthday.

"The fire has wrecked the lives of all those concerned.

"I hope today's convictions go some way towards helping the family come to terms with their dreadful loss."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites