The trial of a young man accused of manslaughter has heard he was captured on camera shortly before the alleged crime, stating: “People are going to get terrorised tonight."

Kai Cooper, 19, of Cleve Road in Leatherhead, is standing trial relating to the death of 88-year-old Josephine Smith.  

Mrs Smith was found dead from smoke inhalation in her home in Queens Park Road, Harold Wood on October 28, 2021. The Old Bailey was told a firework was posted into her home, setting it ablaze. 

READ MORELive from the Old Bailey: Harold Wood manslaughter trial

As his trial began at the court on Thursday morning (February 9), the jury was told Mr Cooper admitted purchasing fireworks and throwing them with a friend on the night in question. 

He also accepts that one of those fireworks caused Mrs Smith’s death and accepts that that constitutes manslaughter. 

But his defence is that his friend – who cannot be named because he is underage, and is not standing trial at the same time – unilaterally decided to post a firework into Mrs Smith’s home.  

However, the prosecution argues that while Mr Cooper may not have physically posted the firework himself, it was part of a “continuous scene of events, one after the other”, in which the two friends had jointly engaged. 

A jury of eight men and four women was shown CCTV footage taken inside Fireworks4Sale, a shop in Harold Wood, where Mr Cooper purchased the fireworks. 

“I want to let them off at people,” he was recorded saying. 

“I’m going to throw it in their face.” 

Mr Cooper told the shopkeeper he wanted “good ones to let off at people”, with “multiple pops”, but which were “not going to do damage”. 

Prosecutor Heidi Stonecliffe KC told the jury that one of the witnesses against Mr Cooper was his then-girlfriend, who told police he had “dared” his friend to post the firework into Mrs Smith’s home. 

But, Ms Stonecliffe added: “This is not suggested to be a targeted incident. It was a tragically random incident.” 

“It is the prosecution’s case, the prosecution’s contention, that they acted as a team, and they did this with Kai handing [his friend] fireworks,” Mrs Stonecliffe said. 

“It’s a series of events – a continuous scene of events, one after the other after the other. 

“There is no line drawn here. They were acting together right the way through.” 

The trial continues.