Hairdresser jailed for life for the murder of wife, two sons

Arthur Simpson-Kent [front]
Arthur Simpson-Kent [front]
The hairdresser who beat and stabbed former EastEnders actress Sian Blake and their children to death before fleeing to Ghana was jailed for life today.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, killed Sian Blake, 43, and their sons, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, before burying their bodies in the garden of their home in Erith, Kent.

The Old Bailey was told he had carried out the premeditated attack on the victims who had been ‘unable to defend themselves’ after becoming aware of her plan.

Simpson-Kent later told a psychiatrist that something just snapped in me’ before he grabbed hold of an axe in the kitchen and hit Ms Blake on the back of her head.kentCannabis dealer Simpson-Kent, who fled to his native Ghana before being extradited back to Britain, admitting the killings and must now complete a whole life sentence.

There were tears in the public gallery today as Mr Justice Singh said he had been left ‘in no doubt’ that Simpson-Kent should spend the rest of his life in prison.

As the impassive triple-killer looked on, the judge told the court: ‘Each murder involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning.

‘At the very least that must be true of the murder of each of the two little boys individually, and in turn after the defendant had already killed Sian Blake.

‘Further, and in any event, there were serious aggravating features of this case. Each of the victims was particularly vulnerable because of age or disability.

‘There was an abuse of position of trust. There was concealment of the bodies. He made efforts to remove evidence of his crimes at the house, including repainting.

‘He sought to lay a false trail by using Sian Blake’s mobile phone. He lied to the police and others about the whereabouts of the family.’

The court heard that Simpson-Kent told psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph something just snapped in me’.

He added: ‘I felt as if I had just been pushed off a diving board and was falling. I grabbed hold of a small axe that was kept on a ledge in the kitchen.

‘Sian’s head was bent low down and she was bent over looking at the floor. I approached her from the side and hit her at the back of the head as hard as I could and she fell unconscious at the first blow.

‘After that I hit her repeatedly on the head. My mind was blank and I was focusing on doing and not thinking. It was like I was there but not there.’

However, Mr Justice Singh said he rejected Simpson-Kent’s claim that he was depressed and planned to also kill himself, before bottling it.

Yesterday, Ms Blake’s family revealed in emotional court statements how they suffer nightmares about how her partner murdered her and their sons.

Her cousin Cheryl Golding told how she is still racked with grief over Ms Blake’s death and can imagine the terror in her eyes when she was attacked.

She said: ‘I have nightmares, visions of how I suppose they were murdered – the terror in their eyes, the look that would have been on Sian’s face.

‘Sian, in life, would want the best in people (and didn’t) comprehend that sometimes people do evil things. She would simply say, “Why do people want to do that?”‘

Ms Golding added: ‘I suffer each day and night with these thoughts going through my head. Why did they have to die? They could have been left alone.’

And Ms Blake’s mother said the family have lived a ‘life sentence’ of pain and sorrow since she and her two sons were murdered by ‘monster’ Simpson-Kent.

Lindell ‘Pansy’ Blake said the family continued to suffer the impact of the killing of her ‘beautiful daughter’ and her ‘angels’ of grandsons.

Mrs Blake told how her faith had been sorely tested by what happened after her terminally ill daughter decided to leave the controlling Simpson-Kent and return to live with her in Leyton, East London.

Mrs Blake said: ‘I would give my life for another moment with my daughter. Time is supposed to be a great healer but our wounds are open and bare for everyone to see. We have scars where Arthur has taken what was not his to take.’

In her statement, Mrs Blake said her daughter was ‘vibrant, she could light up a room with her smile’. The 43-year-old actress lived for her sons, she said, adding: ‘She was besotted with Zachary and Amon. They completed her.’

Mrs Blake said: ‘We live knowing how Sian and the children would have been scared, terrified, before this monster slaughtered them in their home.’

Earlier, the court heard Ms Blake – the family’s main breadwinner, who played Frankie Pierre in EastEnders – had recently been diagnosed with terminal motor neurone disease.

The condition, along with her ‘unhealthy’ relationship, led her to consider selling their home and moving back in with her close family.

Ms Blake’s condition had weakened her arms and hands to the extent that she would not have been able to fight off an attacker, the court was told.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said Ms Blake was planning to return to live with her family ‘because of her condition and because of the state of their relationship’.

Mr Heywood said: ‘The evidence suggests, and this much is not disputed, that, on the night of December 14 2015, the defendant killed each of them in turn with heavy, deliberate, repeated blows with a blunt instrument not since recovered, and then by cutting and stabbing them with a bladed weapon in a way that ensured their deaths.

‘He then covered his crimes by moving, wrapping and burying each of them, cleaning and partially painting his home.

‘He misled friends, family and the police, among others, as to what he had done and where his partner and children had gone.’

Ms Blake last saw her family face to face on Sunday December 13, when she went to her mother Lindell Blake’s home in Leyton, the court heard.

Mr Heywood said she asked her mother if the four of them, including Simpson Kent, could move in to the property.

When Mrs Blake said Simpson Kent could not, her daughter ‘appeared to accept it’, the lawyer said.

He added: ‘Her family encouraged her to move sooner or later. Although no firm arrangement was made, the understanding was that she and the children would move over the coming holiday period, Christmas, even though she had originally requested a delay until the spring.

‘That was the last time Sian Blake was directly seen alive by family members.’

In the days following her death, her family tried to contact her and received texts from her mobile phone saying she had gone away, the court was told.

A message sent to her sister Ava read: ‘I’m taking time to myself and my children without constant opinions from family and friends.’

It added: ‘I have had enough of appeasing everyone. We are away and I will not be calling or speaking to anyone for a few months.’

Mr Heywood said: ‘The defendant, using her (Ms Blake’s) phone, was sending the messages.’

He added: ‘It indicates a deliberate attempt to mislead by the defendant.’

The lawyer added that, after Ms Blake and her children were dead, Simpson Kent ‘appears to have removed all of the possessions of Sian Blake and the two boys’, including clothes and shoes, from the house.

Members of Ms Blake’s family sobbed as the court heard that she and the two boys were hit on the head before being stabbed in the neck or throat.

They were then stripped naked before being buried in the back garden of the Pembroke Road bungalow where they lived.

Yesterday, bearded Simpson-Kent sat impassively in the dock wearing a maroon sweatshirt, occasionally shutting his eyes as the court heard the case against him.

Mr Heywood said that, as police launched a missing persons investigation into Ms Blake and her children, he booked a flight from Glasgow to Accra, via Amsterdam.

In a message to a friend, he said: ‘I can’t go into details about what I have done but I only have 2 choices. Go to Ghana one way or Die (sic).’

While in the Ghanaian town of Busua, the court heard, he told a local man he ‘had killed his girlfriend first and then he had killed the two children afterwards’.

He was seen ‘really partying’ on New Year’s Eve and was spotted taking two young women to a cafe the following morning.

He was later tracked down by police and arrested. When interviewed by detectives in Accra, he claimed there had been a murder-suicide pact between him and Ms Blake because of her illness – but nothing was written down.

Mr Heywood said: ‘He said they had both agreed that the boys should be killed. He said that the reason that the children should be killed was because he was not in a good relationship with his in-laws.’

The court was also told that the family had concluded by last year that Simpson-Kent’s relationship with Ms Blake was ‘an unhealthy and controlling one’.

Also yesterday, Jim Sturman QC, for Simpson-Kent, told the court in mitigation that the couple had previously discussed ‘ending it all’ because of her illness.

But the lawyer added: ‘There was no agreement to kill in this way and it was against this backdrop that the guilty pleas were entered.

‘It is not suggested that the killings were a mercy killing. It is our case that Simpson Kent snapped under the pressure of the disease, the way it was killing Sian and the inevitability of it all.’

He added that the triple killer was ‘not a man prone to violence’, saying: ‘What happened on that night was a truly extraordinary and out-of-character murder.’

He said Simpson-Kent had told his defence team that ‘in prison there are triggers that being back memories of Sian and the boys every day’.

The killer had added: ‘Every day I break down. I will face it every day forever. The punishment is inside my head, the guilt for what I have done.’

The family vanished last December and their bodies were found three weeks later buried in the garden of their home.

The following month, Simpson-Kent was arrested at London Heathrow Airport after agreeing to his extradition from Ghana.

In June, Simpson-Kent pleaded guilty to their murders when he appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from top security Belmarsh prison.

After a family member raised concerns with the NSPCC, police officers went to the family home and spoke to Simpson-Kent.

In the weeks after the murder, police launched a manhunt for Simpson-Kent, who had fled to Ghana via Glasgow and Amsterdam on December 18 after spending a night with a friend in Camden and taking £700 from his partner’s bank account.

Detectives followed him to Ghana where he was arrested on January 9 and extradited in February.

After today’s sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn, from Scotland Yard’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: ‘Arthur Simpson-Kent claimed that Sian allegedly expressed a desire to end her life as her motor neurone disease progressed and that they had agreed a suicide pact.

‘He even suggested he killed his own children as he and Sian agreed that no one else could raise them the way that they were accustomed to.

‘His claims have caused further distress to Sian’s incredibly close-knit family, who have come from all over the world to support the investigation and provide evidence that has shown his claims were just another attempt to save himself.

‘After concealing the bodies and attempting to hide evidence, Simpson-Kent fled to Ghana where he did not take his own life. Nor were his actions those of a man who was devastated, or even remorseful following the deaths of his family.’

An NSPCC spokesman said today: ‘The web of lies and deceit spun by Simpson-Kent before fleeing the country in a bid to evade justice prolonged the agony for Sian’s family.

‘Simpson-Kent is now behind bars for this heinous crime which not only robbed Sian’s family of a daughter and a sister, but also of any dreams, hopes and aspirations they had for her two young sons who had their whole lives ahead of them.

‘There were clearly concerns Sian and her sons were at risk of violence from Simpson-Kent and the NSPCC’s helpline received a call from a member of the public worried about their safety.

‘It’s right the Metropolitan Police has asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission to examine how they handled the investigation.

Source Daily Mail

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