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Watch shocking moment man set fire to homeless man while he slept ‘to impress girl’

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A man who set two sleeping homeless men on fire in Croydon to “impress a girl” has been jailed.

Montel Nowhia-Job, 24, caused “severe psychological damage” to Andy Hillerby and Mauricy Malczewski and was branded a dangerous offender by a judge.

He admitted two counts of arson being reckless to endanger life after the attacks which happened in the early hours of June 10, 2019.

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Jailing him for five years, Judge Adam Hiddleston said: “The damage you inflicted psychologically has clearly been considerable and no doubt will be long lasting.

“The probation worker describes how you sought to describe your actions as a joke – something done to show off to your companion, and to show you were a big man.

CCTV footage shows Montel Nowhia-Job setting one of the homeless men on fire

She says being involved in these two attacks was something you enjoyed.”

A parole board will decide whether Nowhia-Job is released after he has served two thirds, and he will then be subject to an extended licence of three years under dangerous offender provisions.

The judge added: “I’m satisfied you are someone who is clearly capable of doing specified and serious crime, members of the public who cross your path are at considerable risk of serious harm.”

Southwark Crown Court heard Nowhia-Job set fire to Mr Hillerby’s sleeping bag outside the Crisis Centre on Surrey Street at around 3am on June 10, 2019.

The court heard he had a lighter and appeared to set fire to a ball of paper before deliberately placing it next to the man.

He and his companion then walked away, leaving the sleeping man to catch alight.

This victim’s sleeping bag was completely destroyed, along with some items of clothing and important identification documents.

Around an hour later he set fire to Mr Malczewski’s hoody as he slept on George Street.

Prosecutor Sean Sullivan said: “The victim stated he awoke as he felt hot on his head. He looked at his clothes which were on fire, he could smell smoke and he could see sparks coming from his head.

“He tried to extinguish the fire by patting his head with his left hand, causing burns.”

In a statement Mr Hillerby, who suffers from spina bifida, told how he lost his walking stick and colostomy bag in the fire and had to wait to get them replaced.

He said: “Since the incident I have had fits and flashbacks, I suffer from panic attacks and my heart beat has been out of control sometimes.

“I feel so low all the time, I feel so sad about what has happened. It hurts so much, I feel so hopeless. I used to be strong but now I feel I have got no strength. I feel my soul has gone and it has reduced me to a shaking mess.”

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Mr Malczewski said he had lost around £275 in the fire but that, like Mr Hillerby, the incident has had a more serious impact on his mental health.

He said in a statement: “This has affected me the most mentally, I can’t leave anything with anybody anymore. I have trouble sleeping, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep.

“I’m constantly aware and alert, I’m afraid for my life now. These are things I didn’t think of before I was set on fire. I always think of why this happened to me and if it could happen again.

“Mentally this has ripped me apart.”

Nowhia-Job was arrested by police officers two days later having been caught on CCTV wearing a distinctive tracksuit.

The court heard Nowhia-Job has previous convictions for robbery, assault and burglary and was on licence for a robbery sentence at the time of the arson attacks.

A psychiatrist assessed Nowhia-Job ahead of sentencing and found he had “a lack of empathy for his victims” and may have ADHD and Anti Social Personality Disorder.

According to the psychiatrist, the defendant is “not motivated to change his behaviour or lifestyle”.

Tim Bass, defending, said Nowhia-Job is remorseful for his actions two years on.

He told the court his client was homeless himself at the time and has had a difficult upbringing.

Robert Levack, from the CPS, said: “People who are homeless are already vulnerable because they do not have a safe place to call home.

“Montel Nowhia-Job’s actions were frightening, reckless and could have had grave consequences for these men. Although neither of the victims received serious injuries, they have both suffered significant psychological trauma as a result of these arson attacks.

“I hope this prosecution goes some way to reassuring those sleeping rough that they should report crimes against them to the police, and that the CPS will support them by taking their cases to court where there is the evidence to do so.”

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