A man who set two sleeping homeless men on fire in a bid to “impress a girl” has been jailed.
Montel Nowhia-Job, 24, who caused “severe psychological damage” to Andy Hillerby and Mauricy Malczewski, has been branded a dangerous offender by a judge.
After the June 2019 attacks, he admitted to two counts of arson and recklessly endangering life.
CCTV captured one of the attacks. Nowhia-Job is seen looking around a few times before he spots the camera.
He then lights a fire and leaves it near his victim. The video ends clearly showing the sleeping bag on fire.
The abhorrent acts were carried out to “impress a girl”, MyLondon report.
Jailing him for five years, Judge Adam Hiddleston said: “The damage you inflicted psychologically has clearly been considerable and no doubt will be long-lasting.
“The probation worker describes how you sought to describe your actions as a joke – something done to show off to your companion, and to show you were a big man.
“She says being involved in these two attacks was something you enjoyed.”
Southwark Crown Court heard that Nowhia-Job set fire to Mr Hillerby’s sleeping bag in Surrey Street, Croydon, at about 3am on June 10, 2019.
The court heard he had a lighter and appeared to set fire to a ball of paper before deliberately placing it next to the man.
The sleeping man was left to catch fire by him and his companion.
The sleeping bag, as well as clothes and ID, was destroyed.
An hour later, Nowhia-Job set fire to Mr Malczewski’s hoody as he slept on George Street.
Prosecutor Sean Sullivan said: “The victim stated he awoke as he felt hot on his head. He looked at his clothes which were on fire, he could smell smoke and he could see sparks coming from his head.”
In a statement Mr Hillerby, who suffers from spina bifida, told how he lost his walking stick and colostomy bag in the fire and had to wait to get them replaced.
Mr Malczewski said he had lost about £275 in the fire but the incident had had a more serious impact on his mental health.
The court heard Nowhia-Job had previous convictions for robbery, assault and burglary and was on licence for a robbery sentence at the time of the arsons.
Tim Bass, for Nowhia-Job, said his client was remorseful for his actions two years on. The client, he said to the court, was homeless at the time. He had also had a hard upbringing.
Robert Levack, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “People who are homeless are already vulnerable because they do not have a safe place to call home.
“Montel Nowhia-Job’s actions were frightening, reckless and could have had grave consequences for these men.
“Although neither of the victims received serious injuries, they have both suffered significant psychological trauma as a result of these arson attacks.
“I hope this prosecution goes some way to reassuring those sleeping rough that they should report crimes against them to the police, and that the CPS will support them by taking their cases to court where there is the evidence to do so.”