William Smith and Elliot Robinson

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Met Police

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Police said the fire was probably organised by William Smith (left), while Elliot Robinson (right) is believed to have started it

Two men have been jailed for life for murdering an “innocent victim” of a drugs feud in a house fire.

Memunatu Warne, 46, died while visiting relatives in Centurion Square, Woolwich, south-east London, on 6 September.

The Old Bailey was told the fire was deliberately started using petrol.

William Smith, 26, of no fixed address, and Elliot Robinson, 22, of Mottingham, were jailed for a minimum of 32 years and 31 years respectively.

Mrs Warne, from Sierra Leone, was hours away from returning home at the time of the attack, which the court heard was likely to be targeted towards her hosts’ son.

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PA

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The blaze had been started from outside using petrol

Det Ch Insp John Massey, from the Metropolitan Police, said Smith and Robinson’s “wanton viciousness, lead to Mrs Warne’s tragic death”.

Police said the fire was probably organised by Smith, while Robinson is believed to have started the fire.

The pair were found guilty of murder, arson with intent and two counts of grievous bodily harm, while Smith was also convicted of perverting the course of justice.

The court heard hosts Muhammad Kanu, 62, and Umuhawa Kanu, 52, were woken as their home filled with thick black smoke and escaped by jumping through a window.

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PA

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Memunatu Warne did not escape the blaze

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC said: “Mr Kanu was woken by the sound of Memunatu Warne shouting – she was in a bedroom on the first floor – but they couldn’t get to her as the smoke was too thick.

“They had a choice – jump from the second-floor window and in all likelihood suffer serious injury, or die in the fire. Mrs Kanu and then Mr Kanu jumped.

“Both suffered very serious injuries that continue to affect them but they survived. Mrs Warne didn’t get out. She died in the fire.”

Four other men from south-east London: Kurtis Freeman, 21, of Steyning Grove, Matthew John, 19, of Ankerdine Cresecent, Martin McArdle, 28, of Dittersham Road and Kye Kendall, 27, from Lewisham – were acquitted of all charges they faced, including murder and arson.

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