Witnesses saw two youths throwing fireworks shortly before a woman was killed in a Havering house fire, a jury was told.

Three people attended the Old Bailey on Thursday afternoon (February 9) to report seeing fireworks being lit or thrown in the street near Harold Wood station on October 28, 2021.

Josephine Smith, 88, was found dead in her home on Queens Park Road, a few minutes' walk away, that same night.

Neighbours reported her house alight at around 10pm, but prosecutors say the blaze was caused by a firework being posted into her home not long after 8pm. 


Rineldas Jurevicius testified that he and his step-daughter had been driving near the station at around that time when a young man threw a firework "just in front of my car".

He recalled telling his step-daughter: "We need to get away from here before they set our car alight."

One of the males looked older than the other and wore a white hood, he testified. It was he who threw the firework, the witness added.

Jurors had earlier seen CCTV footage of the defendant Kai Cooper purchasing fireworks from a nearby shop in a white hooded top.

Mr Jurevicius testified that the males - accompanied by a young woman - had been heading towards Queens Park Road.

A second witness, Richard Shaw, saw two young men and a young woman in the same area at the same time.

Both males were handling lit fireworks, he said: "They were waving them around and members of the public were kind of avoiding them."


Romford woman, 88, killed by firework posted into her home, court hears

Bus driver Joanne Dobisz testified that she had pulled over for a cigarette break in the area when she saw two boys, one of whom threw a firework into the road.

She began filming and captured a second firework bring thrown in front of a moving car.

She described the pair's behaviour as "dangerous", saying she had alerted her employer to warn other bus drivers.

Mr Cooper, 19, of Cleve Road, Leatherhead, denies manslaughter and arson.

The prosecution contends that he and a friend - who cannot be named due to his age and is not currently on trial - are jointly responsible for Mrs Smith's death.

But Mr Cooper contends that his friend's decision to post a firework into Mrs Smith's home was a unilateral one.

The trial continues.