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Teens charged with manslaughter and arson over the death of 88-year-old woman killed in a fire

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Teenagers, 18 and 15, are charged with manslaughter of Blitz survivor grandmother-of-seven, 88, who was killed in fire at her London home where firework was found

  • Grandmother-of-seven Josephine Smith died in a blaze in Romford in October 
  • Kai Cooper, 18, from Leatherhead, and a boy, 15, from Southend were charged
  • They were both due to appear in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court today 

Two teenagers have been charged with manslaughter and arson over the death of an 88-year-old woman in a house fire in east London.

Grandmother-of-seven Josephine Smith was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services were scrambled to an address in Romford, on October 28 last year. 

As many as 40 firefighters rushed to the property just after 10pm and Mrs Smith was rescued from the first floor but did not survive. 

A firework was recovered from the scene, and a post-mortem gave the cause of her death as smoke inhalation. 

Kai Cooper, 18, of Leatherhead and a 15-year-old male from Southend are due to appear in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court today.

Grief-stricken relatives later paid tribute to the pensioner, saying she enjoyed ‘recalling her memories of the Second World War, and how she had to run for cover from Doodlebug flying bombs.’

Josephine Smith was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services were scrambled to an address in Queens Park Road, Romford, on October 28 last year

As many as 40 firefighters rushed to the scene just after 10pm after calls of a two-storey mid-terraced house on fire

As many as 40 firefighters rushed to the scene just after 10pm after calls of a two-storey mid-terraced house on fire

A firework was recovered from the scene, and a post-mortem gave the cause of her death as smoke inhalation

A firework was recovered from the scene, and a post-mortem gave the cause of her death as smoke inhalation

They are charged with the manslaughter of Josephine Smith and arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered.

Both were also charged with assault by beating with relates to a separate offence on October 27 in High Road, Ilford. 

The pair had previously been arrested, along with a third teen three days after the fire on suspicion of murder.

The third teen arrested, an 18-year-old woman, was released with no further action in relation to Josephine’s death, but accepted an adult caution in relation to the possession of class A and B drugs.

Josephine, a grandmother-of-seven, had lived in the Harold Wood area her entire life, the Romford Recorder reported.

Relatives said the mother-of-five and grandmother-of-seven, who separated from her husband 20 years ago, would walk the children to and from school every day.

She often used to recall her memories of the Second World War, and how she had to run for cover from Doodlebug flying bombs. 

Her family added: ‘She was a fantastic, loving mum and gran. She was passionate about snooker and darts and was obsessed with Elvis Presley, visiting Graceland a few years ago.’ 

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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10381693/Teens-charged-manslaughter-arson-death-88-year-old-woman-killed-fire.html