Appeal for information following fatal cannabis factory fire

Detectives from Specialist Crime are investigating a fatal fire at a unit in Clapton being used as a cannabis factory.

Police were called by London Fire Brigade (LFB) at around 16:10hrs on Friday, 31 December, to a fire at a lock-up garage in Southwold Road, E5.

A man was taken to hospital where he died on Sunday, 2 January. The man’s family has been informed and he has been identified as 35-year-old Ermal Qose. He was an Albanian national and had no known address in the UK.

A 33 year-old man [A] was arrested on 31 December on suspicion of false imprisonment and cannabis cultivation. He has been released under investigation.

A 26 year-old man [B] was arrested on Friday, 7 January, on suspicion of manslaughter, false imprisonment and cannabis cultivation. He remains in police custody.

Officers returned to the scene on the evening of 7 January, a week after the fire, to appeal for information as they continue their work alongside LFB colleagues to establish the full circumstances.

The detective leading the investigation, DCI Mark Rogers, said: “Ermal tragically lost his life having been trapped inside the locked garage which was being used for the cultivation of cannabis when the fire broke out. My thoughts and sympathies are with his family.

“This is now a manslaughter investigation and, although officers have spoken with a number of local people, I want to hear from members of the public who were in the area on New Year’s Eve or who have seen people coming and going from the garage. If you can assist and have not yet spoken with police, please get in touch.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the incident room on 020 8345 4128 or via 101 quoting Operation Woodford. To remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers.

DCI Rogers added: “In addition to appealing for witnesses in this case, I am also calling on those who choose to ignore the many and obvious issues caused by their own use of illegal drugs to reflect on Ermal’s death. It is well known that this trade ruins the lives of almost everybody associated with it, and that fact is all too clearly demonstrated here.

“If you know anything about those who profit from the vulnerability of others through the illegal drugs trade, please contact police or share that information with Crimestoppers anonymously.” 

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