26 February 2024 16:00 Man who ‘made ex partner’s life a misery’ guilty of attempted murder A man who harassed his ex-partner on social media before setting fire to her flat has been jailed

A man who harassed his ex-partner on social media before setting fire to her flat has been jailed after officers arrested him within hours of the offence taking place.

Detectives with specialist safeguarding training supported the victim throughout their investigation which culminated in Harry Owusu-Manu being found guilty on 23 February of two counts of attempted murder following a five week trial at the Old Bailey.

He was also found guilty of aggravated arson with intent to endanger life, religiously aggravated stalking and having a lock knife in a public place. He will be sentenced at the same court on 22 April.

Detective Constable Megan Gittins investigated the fire. She said: “It is no exaggeration to say Harry Owusu-Manu made his ex-partner’s life a misery with his behaviour. The victim’s home and new baby items including clothes, cot and toys were all destroyed.

“Owusu- Manu refused to accept that she did not want to be in a relationship with him anymore and set about causing her physical and mental harm. He began posting derogatory and Islamophobic stories on Instagram but his behaviour soon escalated when he attempted to murder not just his ex-partner but her young daughter and unborn child. He also showed extreme disregard for the lives of other residents who could have been seriously injured by his dangerously misguided drive for revenge.

“Owusu-Manu is a terrifying example of the threat women can face for simply wanting to end a relationship. Throughout this process Owusu-Manu changed his account numerous times. Including claiming he was at the location to stop someone else starting the fire. These attempts to obscure the truth have been discredited. His lies have drawn out this process and delayed the justice that the victim deserves.

“I want to send a clear message to anyone who is concerned about the behaviour of a current or former partner – the Met is here for you.

“Throughout this investigation we supported the victim by ensuring our investigation focused on her needs, for example sign language interpreters were always available to her.

“The Commissioner has set out in our New Met for London plan our commitment to targeting those who pose the greatest threat to women and girls. We encourage anyone who has been subjected to similar behaviour to come forward and speak to us – we are here to listen and will take what you say seriously.”

Detectives began their investigation after a fire was reported at a flat in Battersea in the early hours of Tuesday, 25 April 2023. The victim, who is deaf and was pregnant at the time, and her young daughter had been in the flat at the time and were subsequently treated for smoke inhalation.

Investigators from London Fire Brigade established that the fire had been started deliberately after a doormat had been set alight and forced under the victim’s door.

While Owusu-Manu had attempted to cover his tracks by spray painting one of the CCTV cameras black, detectives soon found footage of his distinctive orange van arriving minutes before the fire.

Officers quickly identified the van used by Owusu-Manu and were able to painstakingly trace his movements from his home address to the victim’s address. Enquiries revealed that this was not the first time that Owusu-Manu made that journey – he had carried out a recce in the days leading up to the fire.

Dash cam footage recovered from the van itself caught the moment Owusu-Manu made his way to the flat to start the blaze. A further recording captured by the dash cam also led detectives to where Owusu-Manu had attempted to get rid of the clothes he wore when starting the fire.

Harry Owusu-Manu, 39 (25.01.85) of New Kent Road, Southwark was arrested later on 25 April 2023 and refused to answer any questions put to him by detectives. He was charged and convicted as above.