Welcome to our review of the week, where we look back at three of our biggest stories over the last seven days. 

Loss of a loved shopkeeper 

Last weekend saw the funeral of Prakash Devlukia, who ran Handy Stores in Rush Green for 43 years before dying on January 30 of a brain haemorrhage. 

His daughter, Roshni, described her father as “the most selfless man I know”, and told the Recorder up to 300 people turned out to pay their respects at his funeral on February 5. 

“That shop and his customers meant everything to him. Even when I was born, so many customers have seen me from diapers to now, 25-years-old,” she said. 

Romford Recorder: Prakash DevlukiaPrakash Devlukia (Image: Roshni Devlukia)

Read more about Prakash here, and how his funeral proceeded here

An Old Bailey court case 

Our investigations reporter Charles Thomson has been in the Old Bailey part of this week covering the trial of Kai Cooper. 

Mr Cooper stands accused of encouraging a younger boy to post a firework through 88-year-old Josephine Smith's front door in Queens Park Road, Harold Wood, on October 28, 2021. 

Mrs Smith was later found dead due to smoke inhalation. Mr Cooper, 19, of Cleve Road in Leatherhead, denies responsibility for her death.

So far, the jury has heard from witnesses who say they saw youths throwing fireworks shortly before Mrs Smith was killed, Mr Cooper’s ex-girlfriend, and an expert forensic fire investigator

The trial is set to continue next week; follow our website for more updates.

Romford Recorder: Josephine SmithJosephine Smith (Image: The Smith Family)

Check his recap of day two here, and day one here

Havering refuses to sign ULEZ agreement 

After Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, reportedly gave councils until February 2 to sign a legal agreement with Transport for London relating to the Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion (ULEZ), it was unclear whether Havering had done so or not. 

However, earlier this week, the council confirmed that, while it recognised it did not affect the mayor’s ability to implement the zone, the local authority had decided to refuse to sign the agreement. 

While acknowledging some of the scheme’s benefits, Cllr Ray Morgon, leader of Havering Council, said: “We feel its introduction should be delayed facilitating better mitigation for residents including an enhanced scrappage scheme.”   

Romford Recorder: Cllr Ray MorgonCllr Ray Morgon (Image: Havering Council)

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “We have no time for inaction when around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air."

Read more about Havering’s refusal to sign here