An arsonist who killed a much-loved community member in a botched Christmas Day revenge attack has been jailed for life.
Tyrone Jacobs, of Ramsay Road, Forest Gate, was today sentenced to serve a minimum of 30 years after being convicted of arson with intent and the murder of Harbhajan Singh Rooprai.
Inner London Crown Court heard how the 60-year-old died after being trapped in his Field Road, Forest Gate, flat after Jacobs deliberately set fire to the property.
The 27-year-old had fallen out with one of Mr Singh Rooprai’s neighbours and in the early hours of Christmas Day doused the downstairs hall with petrol before setting it on fire.
The intended target managed to escape the property, which was a house converted into three flats, but Mr Singh Rooprai was trapped.
His family paid tribute to him after the trial finished, describing a “joyous and lively” man known to family and friends as Bhajan.
In a statement, they said: “He was a generous and thoughtful individual, who always had a friendly smile on his face.
“Bhajan played a very active role within the Sikh Community at Ramgarhia Sikh Gurdwara in Forest Gate.
“He thoroughly enjoyed spending his time looking after the elderly members of the congregant and joining in their card games and entertaining them with his friendly banter.
“Bhajan would carry out selfless service by making tea, serving langar and participating in night duty during religious programmes and festivals.”
Before his death, he had been looking forward to the wedding of his youngest daughter in India.
His family said that his absence had greatly affected the occasion.
They added: “Traditional Sikh weddings are usually a grand affair with festivities and celebrations lasting over a week, however the recent marriages of his son and daughter were sad and sombre affairs.
“Sadly, Bhajan was not there to carry out the duties and rituals of a father and his presence was sorely missed.
“We have been left devastated and are still in disbelief that a member of our family has been so cruelly snatched away from us.
“All we can now do is hope and pray that justice will prevail and that we as a family will be able to find some sort of closure to the awful event that has devastated our family’s lives.”
Det Chief Insp Steve McCabe said: “When setting the house on fire, Jacobs was well aware that many of the occupants could have been seriously injured or killed, and as a consequence Mr Singh Rooprai became the innocent victim. He had nothing to do with their dispute but died as a result of it.
“Setting that house on fire robbed a family of a much loved, caring father, and uncle, as well as a respected member of the community that benefited from the wealth of good he did on a regular basis.”