A man has been found guilty of arson and manslaughter over the death of a Harold Wood grandmother. 

The jury took less than three hours of deliberations to convict Kai Cooper, 19, of Cleve Road in Leatherhead, of committing both offences on October 28, 2021.

Prosecutors said Cooper had encouraged a younger boy, who cannot be named due to his age, to post a lit firework through 88-year-old Josephine Smith's door as a "dare". 

Cooper's defence said the other boy's decision to post the firework had been unilateral. 

The crown's case rested in large part on the testimony of Cooper's ex-girlfriend, Lauren Delossantos, who told jurors she had seen and heard Cooper dare the younger boy to post the firework.


The defence attacked her credibility and suggested she had been "a woman scorned", who lied "out of spite" after Cooper got another woman pregnant. 

Prosecutor Heidi Stonecliffe KC had played footage to the jury of Cooper purchasing fireworks that night with the other boy.

He repeatedly stated his intention to throw them at people and declared: "People are going to get terrorised tonight."

But defence barrister Christine Agnew KC argued to jurors: "He's not being serious. He's messing around."

The trial began last Thursday, February 9, at the Old Bailey. 

Closing arguments were delivered a week later, on February 16. 

Jurors were sent out to deliberate at 4pm on Thursday and returned their verdict by 12.15pm on Friday, February 17.