Police have released CCTV footage of the moment a firework was posted into a Harold Wood grandmother’s home, sparking the fire that killed her. 

In the clip, recorded on October 28, 2021, two explosions illuminate the house in Queens Park Road.  

Speaking outside the Old Bailey today (February 17), Josephine Smith’s family told the Recorder she had been “fit and healthy” – but she had been losing her hearing. 

As she laid in bed upstairs, the firework set light to her kitchen. The fire then burned through the ceiling into the upstairs bedrooms. 

Josephine, 88, was found dead from smoke inhalation later that night.  

Kai Cooper, 19, of Cleve Road in Leatherhead, was today convicted of arson and manslaughter, having encouraged a younger boy to post the firework through Josephine’s door. 

Speaking after the verdict, Josephine's family said she “had many more happy years ahead of her.” 

“She would have lived to a hundred,” said daughter-in-law Lisa.  

"She always looked stunning. She wouldn’t even open the door without her make-up on.” 

“The only time she ever got angry with you was if you went around too early in the morning and she didn’t have her face on yet,” said son Alan. 

Loved ones described Josephine as sharp, “obsessed with watching sports, soaps and quizzes” - especially The Chase. 

“She always had a wordsearch on the go,” they said.  

Josephine was also active, catching buses to Romford and Hornchurch every week. 

“She was a grandmother of seven,” said granddaughter Kelly Gross. 

“Soon to be a great-grandmother, but she’s going to miss out on that,” she added. 

Cooper did not react as the verdicts were handed down, they said. 

A sentencing date is yet to be announced. 


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Josephine’s family also paid tribute to police, firefighters and the Crown Prosecution Service. 

“The firefighters that attended that night are absolute heroes,” said Alan. 

“They, without doubt, risked their lives to try and save Mum. They all deserve so much more. 

“I must thank the police and the prosecution team.  

“The police have a lot of bad press at the moment. However, the professionalism, commitment, compassion and warmth from every officer involved has been commendable.”