A Westminster man has been jailed for killing his friend in a deadly blaze in Croydon which remained unsolved for more than 20 years.
The culprit was arrested at the time but there was not enough evidence against him and it has taken him more than two decades to step forward.
After that, the case went cold with leads exhausted ,until the man confessed after a 21-year wait for answers.
Paul Smith, 38, was killed in a 1996 in a fire which raged in a block of Croydon flats in Violet Lane.
In October 2017, 21 years after the blaze, Richard Curtin stepped forward to confess to starting the fire which killed Mr Smith.
Curtin, 50, of Great Peter Street, Westminster, has now been jailed for 10 years for manslaughter after confessing to police he had caused the fire.
He pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Friday (March 9) and was sentenced at the same hearing.
Curtin was 29 years old at the time of the fire he started.
Emergency services arrived at around 1am in the morning of Sunday October 6 1996.
Met Police officers originally arrested three people - a teenage girl and two men - on suspicion of causing the fire which investigating officers were treating as arson.
All three were released without any further action and leads on the case went cold for 21 years.
On October 24 last year, Curtin appeared before police stating he was responsible for the crime which had remained unsolved.
The case was reopened and Curtin was arrested. It is hoped that the sentencing will bring some closure for the bereaved family of Paul Smith.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "It is over 20 years since Richard Curtin started the fire which resulted in the death of Paul Smith; a significant period of time in which Paul's family have been denied knowing the truth about what happened to him.
"I can only hope Curtin's admission of guilt provides some form of closure for them."
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