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Arsonists who hurled fireworks into Barking care home jailed

PUBLISHED: 17:17 15 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:34 16 December 2016

Donna Stringer, inset, was seriously injured in the arson attack on Lynwood Care Home, main image.

Donna Stringer, inset, was seriously injured in the arson attack on Lynwood Care Home, main image.

Archant

Two men who left a disabled woman fighting for her life after hurling fireworks into a care home for their own "twisted enjoyment" have today been jailed.

Muhammad Khan, 23, deliberately launched five rounds of Roman candles in Beccles Drive, Barking, as Sabbir Ahmed, 23, slowly drove down the road in a black BMW the pair had rented.

One round smashed through the front bay window of Lynwood Care Home.

Nine people had to be rescued from the ensuing blaze at the home for adults with learning disabilities, including wheelchair user Donna Stringer who suffered serious internal and external burns.

The 43-year-old – who has a mental age of a three-year-old – was asleep when the firework burst through her window at about 1am on November 13 last year. She spent two months sedated in a critical condition as a result of her injuries and required an emergency tracheotomy.

Donna Stringer in hospital following the arson attackDonna Stringer in hospital following the arson attack

Damage to the home cost £30,000 to repair and a further £50,000 was spent on rehoming tenants.

Two other rounds were deflected by the windows of neighbouring houses, with the final two unaccounted for.

Ahmed, of Doveton Street, Whitechapel, was jailed at Snaresbrook Crown Court for six years, half of which will be served on licence, after previously pleading guilty to arson with intent to damage property being reckless to whether life was endangered.

Khan, of Rickman Street, Whitechapel, was jailed for six years and four months, half of which will be served on licence, after he previously pleaded guilty to the same charge. He was also jailed for a further eight months for breaching his suspended sentence for bringing a stun gun into Heathrow airport.

Ahmed was sentenced to seven years after the Barking care home was set alight Picture: Met PoliceAhmed was sentenced to seven years after the Barking care home was set alight Picture: Met Police

Khan was told to give £604 recovered from his rented car at his time of arrest to Donna’s mum.

He was also told to pay a further £1,500 compensation to her with Ahmed orderd to pay her £1,500.

Judge Patricia Lees said Donna “must’ve suffered unimaginable fear and pain both that night and since”.

“To try and understand the psychological impact on her you must do so from her perspective,” she added.

Muhammad KhanMuhammad Khan

“She needs assistance getting dressed and moving around.

“The fear she must’ve felt being woken up by the explosion and finding herself trapped in a burning bedroom is difficult to comprehend.”

Praising the bravery of firefighters who dragged Donna from her bedroom, she also praised a heroic neighbour, who lives next to the care home with his family and saved eight people.

She said he “displayed extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety” by entering the rear of the building and escorted a crying care home worker and seven others from the flames before attempting to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher.

Ms Lees told the court how Ahmed and Khan developed a taste for setting off fireworks in public places after they and friends used them in pranks.

These included putting a firework through a friend’s letter box, throwing them during a holiday to Thailand and firing one from a shoe at a friend who was “relieving himself” in an alley.

Though Ms Lees called the firebombing a “sustained and heartless attack”, she gave Khan credit for handing himself in and acknowledged that Donna’s injuries were accidental as the fireworks had been let off as part of a prank that didn’t seek to injure occupants of a care home. She took into account the fact that the care home has no signs outside and looks like an ordinary house.

Ahmed, who waved a tearful goodbye to weeping relatives as he was escorted from the dock, was also given credit for handing himself in.

The court also heard how he has spent the time he’s been remanded in custody counselling other prisoners as a “listener”.

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