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Murder investigation launched after woman dies in Finsbury Park flat fire

PUBLISHED: 14:04 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:51 29 October 2019

Emergency services at the scene. Picture: Lucy Brown

Emergency services at the scene. Picture: Lucy Brown

Archant

Police have launched a murder investigation after a "flamboyant Arsenal fan" died in a fire at her Finsbury Park flat on Saturday.

Andover Estate. Picture: Islington GazetteAndover Estate. Picture: Islington Gazette

Neighbours have named Beatrice Yankson as the victim of the blaze in Mingard Walk on the Andover Estate on Saturday.

A man in his 30s- thought to be one of Ms Yankson's two sons - was taken to hospital, where he remains in a critical condition.

Maria Constatinou, 66, who first met Ms Yankson in 1971, said: "She was an outgoing, strong and healthy person. She was funny, telling me jokes while we had a coffee together.

"She used to come here and talk about her past. We would talk about our children.

"She was a nice person and a good neighbour. She offered to take me to the doctors in her car and she took me shopping sometimes.

"For the past two nights I have not slept at all because all the time I was looking at her face in my head. I was crying yesterday and the day before because she was such a nice person and used to take me everywhere. God bless her."

A woman died in a flat in her Mingard Walk flat on the Andover Estate. Picture: Lucas CumiskeyA woman died in a flat in her Mingard Walk flat on the Andover Estate. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Another neighbour, who met Ms Yankson in 2002 and soon became her friend, told how they used to give each other items of clothing and Ms Yankson had recently gave her a jacket.

"She was so lovely but I'm still in shock," said the woman, who asked not to be named.

"The whole family was big Arsenal fans. She was funny and happy all the time, I usually saw her at the weekend. On Saturday, I was in the living room. I heard some noise, went quickly on the balcony and I saw smoke from her bedroom window."

Mo, who lives with his family directly opposite Ms Yankson's property, said: "She was a good lady, my mum spoke to her a lot. She never bothered anybody on the estate. She was humble."
Jon Burt, who lives in a ground floor flat, added: "I only knew her in passing, we talked about the Arsenal. It used to do her nut in about several of the players [performances] after games. She was a goodun' - a flamboyant Arsenal supporter. Smoke was pouring out of the bedroom window. It's terrible, diabolical."

An eye-witness said: "We saw a lot of people running around the building trying to find their loved ones."

One woman turned up at Andover Medical Centre in tears because she couldn't find her son, the Gazette was told. She'd seen two people struggling in vain to escape the smoking flat, but they were "trapped".

Neighbours urged a man to jump from the window but he didn't and was later rescued by firefighters and taken to hospital.

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn visited the estate to comfort traumatised neighbours this morning.

Mr Corbyn told the Gazette: "I was deeply saddened to hear about the tragic fire at the Andover estate on Saturday.

"I visited the local community centre on Monday morning, and I also spoke to some neighbours of Beatrice Yankson who were shocked at the death of someone they'd known for many years.

"The fire service deserve praise for arriving on the scene so quickly and preventing the blaze from spreading further and endangering more people."

A Met Police spokesperson said: "The fire is being treated as suspicious. At this early stage in the investigation, no arrests have been made and enquiries continue.

"Homicide detectives from Specialist Crime are leading the investigation and are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

"Anyone with information should call the incident room number on 020 8345 3865 quoting OperationRushville."

Did you know Ms Yankson? Contact Lucas at the Gazette newsdesk with tributes and pictures on 07785 616244 or lucas.cumiskey@archant.co.uk

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