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Arsonist jailed for setting fire to sleeping bags of rough sleepers as they slept

The two victims suffered burns, had their belongings destroyed and were left with “significant psychological trauma” following the attacks in Croydon.

An arsonist who set fire to the sleeping bags of two homeless men as they slept in south London has been jailed for five years.

Montel Nowhia-Job, 24, targeted the rough sleepers in Croydon in the early hours of June 10 2019.

They suffered burns, had their sleeping bags and belongings destroyed and have been left with “significant psychological trauma” from the attacks.

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Nowhia-Job spotted the first victim asleep outside a Crisis Centre just before 3am and set light to something before placing it next to him and walking off.

The victim woke up within minutes and managed to put out the flames with his hands, causing minor burns. His sleeping bag was completely destroyed, along with his clothing and important identification documents.

Just over an hour later in a nearby street, the second victim was targeted as he slept. He awoke to feeling heat on his hoodie and sleeping bag before discovering his clothes were on fire.

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He managed to pat the flames down and suffered minor burns and blisters to his hands. His sleeping bag was also destroyed, as well as clothes and cash.

Nowhia-Job, of Croydon, was arrested two days later having been caught on CCTV wearing a distinctive tracksuit.

He admitted two counts of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and was jailed for five years with a further three on extended licence at Croydon Crown Court on Monday.

Both victims received compensation. Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Robert Levack 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.”

The sentencing comes days after a homeless person was sprayed with a jet washer in Camden, north London, sparking warnings from outreach workers about increasing hostility towards rough sleepers in the capital.

Earlier this year, Big Issue vendor Martin Burns also complained about his rough spot being hosed down in Westminster.

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