Stephen Lawrence murder suspect Jamie Acourt pleads GUILTY to plot to smuggle cannabis resin into Britain

Acourt, 42, and brother Neil, 43, who was another Lawrence suspect, headed a gang which moved resin worth £7.4million between London and the north east between 2014 and 2016.

Jamie had denied the allegations but changed his plea on the second day of the trial.

Crispin Aylett, prosecuting, told the court Acourt now admits involvement in 28 trips which shipped drugs worth £5.6million.

Jamie fled to Spain in 2016 after police arrested several suspects, including Neil's father-in-law Jack Vose, 65, in South Shields, jurors heard.

When officers went to Jamie's home in Bexley, south-east London, he had already vanished.

Officers broke down the door to get in and while they were there his partner Terri-Ann Dean arrived at the flat.

She was told to get Acourt on the phone and he was told by the officers he should either come to the flat or turn himself in at a police station.

But Acourt was on the run in Spain and lived in the trendy Diagonal Mar district of Barcelona, until he was finally arrested in May this year as he left a gym.

He was living under the name Simon Alfonzo and had a passport in that name.

Jurors heard his brother Neil, now known as Neil Stuart, is one of six men who have already been convicted and sentenced over the plot.

Couriers made the 600 mile round trip to South Shields to deliver drugs, collect money, or both and 34 journeys were made over the two year period.

Once the money was collected, it was handed to Jamie or Neil back in southeast London, he said.

Some of the delivery men were the fathers of their respective partners.

One of the conspirators, Lee Birks, is the father of Jamie Acourt's partner and another, Jack Vose, is Neil's father-in-law.

Another delivery men, Darren Thompson, was arrested in May 2015 as he was about to take delivery of 100 kilos of cannabis worth £200,000.

Vose was found with 100 kilos of resin in South Shields on 1 February, 2016, the court heard.

Neil Acourt, Vose, 57-year-old Birks, Paul Beavers, 51, Thompson, 30, and James Botton, 46, have all been convicted of conspiracy to supply class B drugs and sentenced.

Stuart, of Eltham, was jailed for six years and three months. Vose, of Bexley, was jailed for four years and nine months.

Thompson, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear, was jailed for four years and two months. Beavers, of Newcastle, was jailed for three years and four months.

Botton, of Greenwich, was jailed for four years and nine months.

Acourt and brother Neil, were among five men named as suspects after Stephen Lawrence was knifed to death in a racist attack at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London, in 1993.

They have always denied any involvement in the killing.

Acourt, of no fixed address and formerly of Bexley, initially denied conspiracy to supply cannabis but admitted it this afternoon after the prosecution finished opening the case against him.

He will be sentenced tomorrow.

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Maine Teen Who Fatally Stabbed Parents and Chihuahua Before Laughing on 911 Call Gets 40 Years

A Maine teen who believed her parents were intolerant of her transgender identity was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison for their 2016 stabbing murders.

“I do not speak today to beg for lenience or to try to save myself from due punishment. I’m here only to ask for one thing, the forgiveness of my family,” said Andrea Balcer, who was 17 at the time of the attack at the family’s home in Winthrop, reports the Associated Press.

Court documents previously obtained by PEOPLE portrayed Balcer, now 20, as an academically gifted but socially isolated teen who had no prior criminal or disciplinary issues when she stabbed her parents, Antonio and Alice Balcer, both 47, along with the family’s Chihuahua, on Oct. 31, 2016.

The teen — identified as Andrew in those earlier court documents — summoned police to the family’s home around 1:30 a.m. that day, according to a judge’s order that granted the prosecutor’s request to try the teen as an adult.

That order says Balcer told a 911 dispatcher she had stabbed her parents about 30 minutes earlier and, when asked by the dispatcher if she was sure they were dead, responded: “Yeah, there’s no helping them.”

The teen said she “snapped” and stabbed her mother, Alice, in the back in Balcer’s bedroom, and that when Antonio Balcer awoke to his wife’s screams, the teen then “stabbed the f— out of him,” the documents state.

Balcer “then laughed,” according to the documents, and told the dispatcher she didn’t “even know anymore” why she would kill her parents. “Oh, I stabbed the dog too,” she said, according to the documents. “He was barking.”

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Autopsies revealed Antonio had 13 “major” stab wounds while Alice had been stabbed significantly nine times. Wounds on both were so severe they went through their chests and “out the other side.”

Balcer also told the dispatcher her older brother, who was in the home at the time, had run down the street after begging for his life and being spared.

When police arrived, Balcer — who was covered in her parents’ blood — surrendered without incident. Once detained in the back of the police cruiser, officers reported that Balcer broke into an opera song she’d heard performed by Luciano Pavarotti.

Police found the father, a retired member of the Coast Guard, dead on the kitchen floor. The mother’s body was found in the back bedroom. The family’s Chihuahua was also dead.

Balcer initially was charged with two counts of intentional or knowing murder, and one of aggravated cruelty to animals. On Tuesday she accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty under a negotiated agreement, according to the AP.

Killer Says Parents Weren’t Accepting, But Family Members Reject Claim

Balcer’s defense attorney Walter McKee alleges Balcer’s parents did not accept her gender identity, and that part of his defense “was Andrea’s position that what she did was in response to her parents’ rejection of her transgendered status.”

McKee says the judge, Daniel Billings, “specifically noted that the struggles of being a transgendered teen were very real and documented in the psychological evaluations,” but adds Billings “did not allow it to be considered an excuse for violent conduct.”

At the sentencing, Balcer’s brother Christopher dismissed the killer’s excuses as “flimsy,” the AP reports. “In my view, all leniency does is put a remorseless murderer back on the street,” he said.

Balcer’s uncle Carl Pierce — who is Alice Balcer’s brother — also challenged the idea that any perceived lack of support for Balcer’s gender identity factored in the murders. He called the claim an “insult to our family, an insult to our society and an insult to the LGBTQ community,” according to the AP.

Pierce said he’d spoken openly to Balcer’s dad about her gender identity. “There was no hatred,” he said. “There was no malice. There was no ill will. There was resignation to be sure, but ultimately there was acceptance.”

Balcer’s defense attorney says there are no plans to appeal.

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Man who murdered wife with Tesco bag to run away with gay lover jailed for life

A pharmacist who murdered his wife so he could start a new life with his gay lover has been jailed for life.

Mitesh Patel also planned to claim £2million in life insurance and move to Australia with his boyfriend after killing 34-year-old Jessica.

He was convicted of her murder following a 12-day trial at Teesside Crown Court, with cries of "yes" being shouted from the public gallery.

And today a judge jailed him for life, adding that Patel must serve a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Jessica’s family told Patel that while she would rest in heaven, ‘he would rot in hell’ as he was handed the life term.

He showed no flicker of emotion.

The 37-year-old had plotted for years to kill Jessica so he could be with his true love and "soulmate" Dr Amit Patel in Sydney, and carried out his plan at the marital home in Middlesbrough, the court heard.

In what was said to be a legal first in the UK, evidence from the health app on his iPhone was used to show his movements on the night of the murder with him frantically moving around their home trying to make it look like they had been burgled.

It also showed that after he returned from a trip out to buy food that night, he had gone upstairs after he pretended to find his wife’s stricken body, dashing into a bedroom to hide the house’s CCTV hard-drive in a suitcase full of clothes.

His wife’s phone was also analysed to reveal more evidence of his lies.

He claimed his wife was still alive when he ventured out, but his story crumbled when the health app showed her phone remained motionless outside the couple’s Middlesbrough home until 8.40pm that night.

That was when a police officer picked it up near their front door, where it had been left by Patel to make it look like it had been dumped by an intruder.

Police also released photos taken at the scene that appear to show the sophisticated ploy Patel attempted to use to get away with his heinous act.

Drawers and wardrobes can be seen left open, clothes are strewn over the floor and the bed, and belongings are out of place.

But it was Patel himself who carried out the murder in May, first subduing her by injecting her with insulin, then strangling her with a Tesco bag for life and going out to buy a pizza to create a false alibi before coming home to raise the alarm.

There were also various life insurance policies in his wife’s name worth £2m, after Patel had asked for advice on how he would inherit the money in the days before the murder.

In a statement released through Cleveland Police, Jessica’s family said: "The man we welcomed into our family, who promised to look after and protect her, betrayed her in every sense of the word, cheating her of her dreams, robbing her of her life and robbing us of her.

"No one in this world has the right to take someone else’s life.

"Although even a maximum life sentence is not punishment enough, we are relieved at the outcome of the trial and this will help to bring us a little peace."

The couple, from West Yorkshire, owned and ran a successful pharmacy in Middlesbrough but their marriage was unhappy.

Patel was regularly unfaithful with men he met on the Grindr dating app and he once told Dr Patel he married Jessica because she was in love with him and it would be a good cover of his true sexuality.

Jessica underwent three courses of IVF and the last course resulted in three embryos being created, but she was murdered before they could be implanted.

Patel and Dr Patel had discussed bringing up a baby together if Jessica conceived by IVF, the prosecution claimed.

It was also alleged that the husband had researched how to strangle someone and had looked into hiring a hitman on the "dark web".

He had searched "I need to kill my wife", according to the prosecution, which told jurors about internet searches stretching back more than five years.

Patel denied murder, claiming an intruder must have done it but his original alibi that he had gone for a walk the night he killed her was proved to be false, and the prosecution portrayed him as a serial liar and fantasist.

There was also evidence that Jessica scratched her husband as she fought to save her life, and that he had used ligatures around her wrists and ankles to restrain her. 

After the murder, police discovered syringes prepared with insulin in Patel’s laptop bag. One was empty.

As she fought for her life, she scratched his neck. He tried to blame the injury on an accident when he was working out at the gym that day.

Reading an impact statement, Jessica’s sister said: "The one thing we hope and prayed for above anything else was that in her final moments she did not suffer.

"The cruel reality is that she did in fact suffer she knew exactly who her killer was and he mercilessly ignored her attempts to fight for her own life as he ended it.

"We can only imagine the fear and panic she must have felt knowing herself this was it, thinking of that moment makes our hearts so heavy."

She added: "He may not have valued her life, but there are many who did. A maximum life sentence is not enough for the torture she has endured at his hands, the suffering she bore and the horrific way in which she was killed.  

"We don’t just pray, we know that she will be free from you for ever, as while she rests in heaven, you will rot in hell."

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3 teens arrested in murder of Louisiana pastor's wife

3 teens arrested in murder of Louisiana pastor’s wife

Three Louisiana teenagers were arrested after a pastor’s wife was run over and killed by her own vehicle during a carjacking.

Three Louisiana teenagers were arrested Saturday after a pastor’s wife was run over and killed by her own vehicle during a carjacking.

Jeannot Franco Plessy, 49, was pulled from her own car and thrown to the ground while she was outside her daughter’s home on Nov. 27. Her son-in-law tried to stop the carjacking, but the teens reversed the car and ran over Plessy. She died later that night from blunt force trauma.

A 17-year-old, Jontrell Robinson, was charged with second-degree murder and carjacking, New Orleans police said. Edwin Cottrell, 18, was arrested and charged with being a principal to second-degree murder and a principal to carjacking.

Another juvenile, who was not identified, was also charged with being a principal to second-degree murder and principal to carjacking.

Plessy was a mother-of-five who co-founded the outreach ministry Crossover Christian Fellowship with her husband, David Plessy, more than a decade ago. David Plessy said his wife was a domestic abuse survivor who recently returned from an evangelical trip to American Samoa during domestic violence awareness month, according to WWL-TV.

Jontrell Robinson, left, and Edwin Cottrell were charged in the carjacking death of a pastor’s wife.
(New Orleans Police Department)

David Plessy called his wife’s death “an act of selfishness.”

“One inclination would be to scream out for justice and scream out of anger, and perhaps that's a stage of my grief that's in front of me,” he told WWL-TV. “But I know my wife has never failed to forgive anyone who has hurt her.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cops in Jamaica find body of murdered British beautician in garden

Body is found in search for murdered British beautician: Police in Jamaica make grim discovery in garden of victim’s ‘dream home’ as her heartbroken boyfriend says he feels like he’s ‘been hit by a train’

  • The body of Karen Cleary, 44, from north London, has been found in the garden of her ‘dream home’ in Jamaica  
  • Karen, a hairdresser and beautician, had been in the Caribbean building the property for her and partner of 13 years, sales manager Andy Kane 
  • Her body was discovered by detectives digging at the property in St Mary’s on the island last night
  • Police had earlier arrested a male labourer who had been working on the property on suspicion of her murder  
  • Her partner Mr Kane, 56, from Southampton, Hants, confirmed the grim discovery in  Facebook post and asked friends to pray for her
  • He added: ‘I’m so sorry to pass on the news that today, after a painstaking search the time for hope and optimism has unfortunately passed’

The body of a British beautician missing in Jamaica has been discovered by police investigating her murder.

Karen Cleary’s partner broke the sad news that the search for the 44-year-old from north London was over and that she had ‘gone to a better place’.

Speaking to MailOnline, Karen’s partner Andy Kane this morning confirmed that identification of her body had to be done from her tattoos due to the grisly manner of her murder.

He said: ‘It is with huge sadness that I can now tell you that Karen’s body has been discovered buried in her garden.

‘Formal identification has taken place. It had to be done from pictures of her and from a distinctive tattoo she has.

‘I cannot go into the details of how she met her death as it is at this time just too painful.’  

The body of Karen Cleary, 44, a hairdresser and beautician, from north London, (pictured) missing in Jamaica has been discovered by police investigating her murder

Karen’s partner Andy Kane (pictured), 56, a sales manager, who is in the Caribbean, broke the sad news that the search for her was over and that she had ‘gone to a better place’

Karen had been on the Caribbean island to manage the building of her dream home (pictured), that she planned to share with her partner of 13 years, sales manager Mr Kane 

In a heartbreaking message to Karen’s family Mr Kane urged them to ‘pray for her’ and ‘make sure you tell your loved-ones how much they mean to you while you still have the chance. Pictured: Spectacular views of the sea from the holiday home Karen was building in Jamaica 

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In a heartbreaking message on Facebook to Karen’s family and friends, Mr Kane urged her supporters to ‘pray for her’ and ‘make sure you tell your loved-ones how much they mean to you while you still have the chance’. 

‘I am so sorry to pass on the news that today after a painstaking search by the Jamaican Police team that the time for hope and optimism has unfortunately passed,’ he said. ‘Karen has now gone to a better place.’

Karen had been on the Caribbean island to manage the building of her dream home that she planned to share with her partner of 13 years, sales manager Mr Kane.

Mr Kane updated well-wishers with the sad new that her body was fround on Facebook

But she disappeared nine days ago and is alleged to have been killed by a labourer who had been working on the building project.

Police arrested the workman from Spanish Town, Jamaica, on suspicion of Karen’s murder on Sunday.

Detectives began digging in the garden of the property in Boscobel, St Mary’s, yesterday and last night Mr Kane confirmed police had found his girlfriend’s body.

In an emotional late-night Facebook post he said: ‘Since last Tuesday when I found out Karen was missing I’ve had a feeling that the freight train of reality was barreling down the tracks towards me. Today it pains to say that train hit me hard.’

And Mr Kane, 56, from Southampton, Hants, paid tribute to his ‘beautiful’ partner of 13 years.

He wrote: ‘Karen has been that shining star in my world for over 13 years, that world has now turned very dark indeed.

‘Please before you go to bed tonight say a pray for her to whatever God you pray to and also make sure you tell your loved ones how much they mean to you while you still have the chance.’ 

Mr Kane, 56, (left) paid tribute to his ‘beautiful’ partner (right) and wrote: ‘Karen has been that shining star in my world for over 13 years, that world has now turned very dark indeed’

Mr Kane had previously said Karen’s disappearance was out of character, saying she spoke to him and her mum Valrie every day and would never go so long without contacting them

And he thanked the many well-wishers in Britain and Jamaican, who had offered him support.

He said: ‘Thank you for all the love, concern and genuine offers of support that you have posted over the past few days, it has truly been appreciated.’ 

Karen had been missing on the Caribbean island since November 25.

Mr Kane had flown to Jamaica on Saturday to look for her when she stopped calling home abruptly. 

Distraught Mr Kane had previous told MailOnline that he feared the search would not ‘end well’. He added that police would be searching the garden of the property with the help of the workman suspected of killing her.

Karen, a hairdresser and beautician, was born in Jamaica but had lived in Islington, north London, for almost 20 years.

She had travelled to Jamaica to build a dream home for herself and partner to share.

Karen is alleged to have gone to visit Portmore, near the capital Kingston. But Mr Kane said he didn’t believe she had gone there ‘for one minute’.

He added that her disappearance was ‘totally out of character’ for her and she would speak to him and her mother Valrie Williams on at least a daily basis.


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Christopher Watts: Murder Case Files Reveal Chilling Details

On November 29th — following Christopher Watts’s guilty plea, and his sentencing for the murder of his pregnant wife and two young daughters — the Weld County, Colorado, District Attorney’s office released over 2,000 pages of documents and numerous videos pertaining to the case. While Watts has not offered a full explanation for what led him to strangle 34-year-old Shan’ann and smother Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, the files suggest that while his wife fought to save their eight-year relationship, Watts was consumed by a blossoming romance with a coworker, who later reported their affair to police.

In a videotaped interview with Weld County Sheriff’s Department officers, on August 16th, one day after Watts was arrested, Nichol Kessinger said she believed financial issues were the primary motivation for the murders, but admitted the barely two-month-long relationship might have “accelerated the process.”

“I legitimately think his cheese was sliding off his cracker long before he met me,” said Kessinger, who believed Watts was in the final stages of a divorce.

Although she knew about Bella and Celeste, Kessinger first learned about Shan’nann’s pregnancy while watching a news report the week of the family’s disappearance. When she confronted Watts, he lied and said he had just learned about the pregnancy himself, and that Shan’nann had told him the baby wasn’t his. Later, Watts tried to throw his deceased wife under the bus again, telling his father and the police that he had strangled Shan’nann “in a rage” after she killed their two daughters, which prosecutors said was contradicted by the forensic evidence.

Kessinger admitted to detectives that before contacting police, she deleted a number of “raunchy” text message exchanges because she was “grossed out,” and authorities don’t believe she was involved in the murders. While Kessinger claims that she and Watts never discussed the future of their relationship, Watts did involve his mistress in his search for a new apartment, and both Watts’ and Kessinger’s Google search histories indicate they were on each other’s minds. Before the murders, Kessinger had Googled “Man I’m having affair with says he will leave his wife” and “marrying your mistress,” spent hours searching for information about Shan’nann, and even looked at wedding dresses. Watts, meanwhile, searched for things like “How does it feel when someone says I love you” and researched “secluded” vacation destinations.

Text messages are also among the newly released documents; at several points, Watts juggled text exchanges from his concerned wife and his clueless mistress as the same time. Contrary to Watts’ claim that Shan’nann killed their daughters when he said he wanted to separate, Shan’nann’s text messages demonstrate that while she was confused and hurt by his cold, sudden withdrawal, she was also rational and level-headed, hardly homicidal.


“l realized during this trip what’s missing in our relationship!” Shan’nann wrote to Watts a few days before the murders. “lt’s only one way emotions and feelings. I can’t come back like this. I need you to meet me halfway. You don’t consider others at all, nor think about others feelings.”

Watts vacillated between dropping emotionally devastating bombshells and giving Shan’nann false hope that their marriage could be saved.

“He told me he doesn’t want this baby and he’s happy with just Bella and Celeste,” Shan’nann wrote to a friend on August 8th. “He thought he wanted another one. l’m so sick to my stomach. Tried to have sex with him last night just to see if that would help him and he rejected me.”

Shan’nann also told the same friend, “I don’t feel safe with him after what he said about the baby.” But just one day later, on August 9th, she texted another concerned friend, “Omg much better. We talked. He told me he loved me back. Still cold, but not as cold. He even kissed me before going to sleep in basement.”

Her excitement was short lived. That weekend, Shan’nann went on a business trip and left the girls with Watts, who arranged for a babysitter one evening, supposedly so he could attend a sports game and then with friends. Instead, he took Kessinger out to dinner, paying with his credit card instead of a gift card for the first time. The charge didn’t escape Shan’nann’s notice; she later texted a friend that the amount seemed large for a meal for one. But Watts had denied having an affair, and Shan’nann told a friend that she doubted he “had it in him.”

A few days later, Shan’nann and her two girls were dead; in the early morning hours of August 13th, a neighbor’s surveillance camera captured Watts loading cans of gasoline into his truck before backing the vehicle into the home’s garage. When he left shortly thereafter, the remains of his family were hidden in the truck bed and then later dumped on an oil site owned by his employer. Shan’nann’s body was found in a shallow grave near two oil drums containing the remains of Bella and Celeste.

A few hours later, while Shan’nann’s friends and family were starting to panic about her whereabouts, Watts was Googling the lyrics for the song “Battery” by Metallica. They include “Smashing through the boundaries, lunacy has found me” and “Pounding out aggression, turns into obsession/Cannot kill the battery/Cannot kill the family.”

Christopher Watts has been sentenced to five life terms for the murders of Shan’nann, Bella and Celeste, and is not eligible for parole.

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