A 23-YEAR-OLD man with a dispute against a Deptford bar owner has been jailed for 13 years after starting the fire which killed 82-year-old Giuseppina Fazzani.
Tuan Anh Le, a Vietnamese national of no fixed address, started the blaze in the early hours of May 29 last year, targeting a bar next door to Miss Fazzani’s property following a dispute.
Miss Fazzani, known to friends and family as Josie, had lived in the Deptford High Street building for almost her entire life, moving in during the 1930s when she was just 13.
Until 20 years ago it had been run as a café, and she continued to live there after the business closed. She was asleep in her bedroom on the ground floor the night the fire started.
An Old Bailey jury heard that Le had taken against the owner of the neighbouring Xo Bar six months previously.
On the night of the fire, CCTV captured Le driving up and down the high street twice before getting out and peering through the security shutter of the bar. He then drove to a nearby petrol station where he bought kitchen roll and a can of petrol.
Further CCTV caught him starting a fire at the door of the bar and then another outside Miss Fazzani’s home.
Inside the property, Miss Fazzani's niece was asleep on the second floor when she was awoken by the smoke alarm. She tried to get downstairs to help her aunt but was beaten back by heat and smoke and had to be rescued by the fire brigade.
Miss Fazzani was found unconscious by her bed having suffered serious burns. She was treated by paramedics at the scene but was pronounced dead at 3am.
Today, Le was found guilty of her manslaughter, and was sentenced to 13 years in jail.
Afterwards, Detective Inspector Nathan Eason from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command said: "Josie would not have stood a chance of escaping the fire due to her advanced years and mobility issues.
“Having committed this reckless and despicable act, Le attempted to evade responsibility for his actions by claiming he was forced into setting the fires.
“The jury clearly saw through this complete fabrication and rightly convicted him. We can only hope that today's conviction can in some small way assist Josie's family to come to terms with her tragic and needless loss."
In a statement, the family said: “The loss of an elderly loved one is always difficult. Guiseppina Fazzani was 82 years of age, still very much living her life to the full, to lose her in such a cruel, horrific and senseless way has been devastating for all her family and friends.
“However, we would like to very much thank the members of public, who on that night called the fire services, this act undoubtedly saved the life of our cousin, her niece.
“We thank the London Fire Brigade for all they did, always putting their lives at risk and the Ambulance Service for the care they gave to both our cousin and our aunt.
“Finally we thank the Metropolitan Police for their tremendous hard work and determination in bringing this case to trial and a special thanks to the family liaison team for their care and sensitivity in keeping the family informed of every development.”