The looter who burned down House of Reeves store last August has been sent to prison for 11 and-a-half years as the Reeves family describe the fire as a bereavement.
Gordon Thompson, 34, was told by Judge Peter Thornton: 'This day was a bad day for Croydon and the people of Croydon. Perhaps the most shocking event was that the House of Reeves was set alight and burned to the ground, putting lives at risk'
He said the store 'had stood on the site for over 140 years, proudly giving its name to its location, Reeves Corner. You were about to bring all that to an end.
'This was a deliberate, wilful act of shocking, dangerous vandalism. The Reeves family lost their historic business, something they and generations before had lived and worked for all their lives. Their loss is priceless.'
In a victim impact statement, Trevor Reeves, House of Reeves director said: 'The total destruction of the site has been a bereavement to me, I just can't understand what I have done to make someone do this to me. I wonder with despair what my father and grandfather would make of the situation.'
He added that the sentence 'will not bring it back' and added: 'My father built that store up. That store was his baby. I lived there as a child, played there as a child, I lived there as an adult, I worked there for most of my adult life, and when you lose something like that it's like a bereavement.'
After sentencing, owner of the store, Maurice Reeves, 80, said: 'He's [Thompson] done tremendous harm for everybody, but we have to fight back and that's what we will do. That's the typical Reeves family. He has apologised and it is accepted by the Reeves family and me.'
Thompson, who has 20 previous convictions, including one for violent robbery, was filmed on mobile phones and by CCTV cameras during the arson, the court heard.
The Old Bailey trial in February heard that he told another man it was me' as he walked away from the blaze. Thompson changed his plea to guilty at the end of the prosecution case.