A homeless man was burned to death and another was critically injured after two drunk men set fire to their makeshift hut.

38-year-old Ionut Manea who is originally from Romania had moved to London in search of a better life.

He was living in a wooden hut beside the A406 in Ilford, east London, when 37-year-old Ionel-Octavian Stanciu, and 52-year-old Petra Deliu, who were reportedly in an inebriated state, doused petrol on the hut and set it on fire on the night of June 18, 2019.

Ionut was rushed to a nearby hospital with severe burns that had covered almost 95% of his body. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The second man, Petrisor Manea, also from Romania, suffered critical burn injuries and spent six weeks in a specialist unit before being flown back to his family.

Following a retrial on Thursday, July 8, the Old Bailey found Stanciu guilty of murder and grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to the second man who survived the attack.

Deliu was convicted of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm.

The court was told that both suspects were drunk when they bought petrol from a nearby garage and walked to the camp where they poured it over the hut and set it ablaze.

"The hut might not have been much to look at, but it was Ionut’s home," Prosecutor Tim Cray QC told the jurors.

Ionut was probably in bed and Petrisor was sitting on a sofa when the fire engulfed them, jurors were told. Both men were unable to escape the hut.

People who witnessed the "horrifying" blaze alerted the police and officers responded to the scene.

The suspects were arrested not too far away from the scene after police officers spotted them trying to flag down passing motorists.

The exact motive behind the attack is unclear, however, according to the prosecutor, the planned attack may have been the "product of callous and stupid intentions which were brewed up in drink".

"It would be difficult to put a logical or a rational motive, or combination of motives, to setting light to a dwelling with people inside," Cray told jurors.

"However, the evidence proves that this is exactly what the defendants did and that their acts were done quite deliberately: buying petrol, carrying it some distance to the hut across difficult ground, pouring the petrol and setting it alight once they got there," he said.

Detective Sergeant Ian Valentine, from the Met's specialist crime command, said: "This is a tragic case in which one man lost his life, and a second suffered horrendous burns."

"Ionut Manea came to this country to seek a better life but instead he found himself living in a makeshift camp on wasteland close to a busy road."

"He died in the most horrific circumstances after petrol was poured onto the campsite."

"The actions of Deliu and Stanciu were very deliberate and today they have been held to account for their actions," Valentine said.

Representational image. Pixabay.

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