Arson victim's elder brother used to deal Class A drugs and had recently survived a stabbing attempt in the same house
Relatives have all said that seven-year-old Joel Urhie was collateral damage who was caught in the middle of a turf war that involved his elder sibling, Samuel.
The older brother of the boy who was killed in an arson-related fire in Deptford has had his life of crime slammed by his relatives. They say he is the reason the young boy was killed. They have all said that Joel Urhie was collateral damage who was caught in the middle of a turf war that involved his elder sibling, Samuel, who had been recently released from prison for the crime of dealing in Class A drugs cocaine and heroin. 21-year-old Samuel had not been in the house that was targeted because he had been scared of the retaliation if he went back to his native town of Deptford in south-east London.
It had been claimed that he is from a church-going family but that he had fallen into drugs and drill music. "Drill" is believed to be the cause for the rise in an "eye for an eye" type gang killings because of the confrontational style the music has. Mirror Online reported that the eldest sibling had been put behind bars for four years and four months after he pleaded guilty to selling the drugs and possessing drug money back in February 2016.
The youngest Urhie child has now become the UK's 90th murder victim in this year so far after he died in an arson-related fire that engulfed his home in the early hours of August 7. His 49-year-old mother, Sophie, and his 19-year-old sister, Sarah, were able to flee the blaze by breaking a window on the upper floor of the home and jumping down.
One close relative of the family said that Samuel had been involved in some "dodgy stuff" and also spoke about how his parents had tried for many years to keep him on the right side of the law. The eldest child had been allegedly stabbed after he was released from jail three months earlier and had been taken in by his mother. His 53-year-old aunt, Ruth Urhie, said in an interview on August 7: "When he came back from jail he was living there with his mum. They came to the house and stabbed him so he ran from the house. He was too scared to go back there. That kind of person does not want to give his family peace of mind. He is on and off with the police."
The aunt also said that Samuel's relationship with his 54-year-old father, John, had deteriorated after the young man had pulled out a knife on his father. Friends of the family also say that when he was told that his younger sibling had died in the fire, he was heard shouting: "Oh, why not me?" Another relative said that the mother, who works as a nurse, told her eldest child: "You have killed Joel", at the hospital where she and Sarah were getting treatment from the incident.
Sophie was at the hospital for the night after she broke her pelvis and suffered from multiple other injuries in the desperate bid to freedom. Her daughter had been staying over after coming back from university and she was discharged after suffering only minor foot injuries.
56-year-old Grace Gbenedio, a friend of the family, said that Sophie was doing well in the hospital. She also dismissed the rumors that Samuel was the real target behind the attack. She said: "It’s a shame people are thinking like that." A close relative, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Samuel had been involved in a knife crime recently. They said: "Whatever he is into doing, that’s the reason why this has happened."
They added: "I don’t know if they thought that if he was there, maybe they would do that. It could have been a lot worse, all three of them could have died. He might have offended someone. He stabbed someone, someone stabbed him, I don’t know. I don’t even want to think about what his mother is going through. They were very close."
Samuel had been sent to the young offenders unit after he got onto the wrong side of the law as a teen. He pleaded guilty in 2016 and spent another eight months in prison. The authorities have so far taken surveillance footage from a nearby property to see how the fire had started in the first place.
A spokesperson for the young victim's school, the Tidemill Academy, said: "Joel was a much-loved member of our school community – he was a friendly, fun and smiley boy who loved to make people laugh." Floral memorials were kept at the scene of the fire and his home by classmates from the school.