Deptford fire: Joel Urhie's school pays tribute to 'smiley boy'

Joel Urhie Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Joel Urhie dreamed of becoming a firefighter, his family said

A seven-year-old boy murdered in a suspected arson attack at home has been described by his teachers as a "smiley boy who loved to make people laugh".

Joel Urhie's body was found after a "very severe fire" at the house in Adolphus Street, Deptford, south-east London, on Tuesday morning.

His mother Sophie and sister Sarah jumped to safety from the first floor.

Joel's school said the loss of their Year 2 pupil was "tragic".

Joel went to Tidemill Academy, a short walk from his family home.

Speaking after a murder investigation was launched by police, staff at Tidemill Academy said: "Joel was a much-loved member of our school community."

"He was a friendly, fun and smiley boy who loved to make people laugh," a spokeswoman added.

"He enjoyed sport and reading. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this extremely difficult time."

Image caption Flowers and cards were left opposite the charred remains of the family home

Joani Reid, a local councillor, said Joel's death had "shaken us all" in the community.

She added Lewisham Council was helping the police with their investigation.

Floral tributes were left on the fence opposite the charred remains of the family home on Wednesday.

Detectives questioned neighbours and seized CCTV footage from a flat across the road from the house.

The Metropolitan Police said in a briefing on Tuesday it was not discounting the possibility that the suspected arson attack was gang-related.

Dep Supt Jane Corrigan said: "We are keeping our options open. We have no idea what the motive for this attack was, so we're examining a number of possibilities."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Joel's mother Sophie and sister Sarah jumped to safety from the first floor

Neighbour Peter Hill, 69, said he heard an "aggrieved bloke shouting his head off" in the early hours of the morning before the fire.

A family member told the BBC Joel's older brother, Sam, was not allowed to see Joel's body when he arrived at the scene at about 07:00 BST on Tuesday.

The family member added: "We need to catch who ever did this and have justice."

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