07/12/2018 12:40 GMT | Updated 07/12/2018 13:09 GMT

Jamie Acourt, Former Stephen Lawrence Murder Suspect, Jailed Over £4m Drug Plot

Jamie Acourt had spent more than two years on the run.

PA Wire/PA Images
Jamie Acourt.

A man who was suspected in the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence has been jailed for nine years over a £4m drugs plot.

Jamie Acourt, 42, from Eltham, south east London, pleaded guilty at Kingston Crown Court on Thursday over the two-year conspiracy to sell cannabis resin.

His 43-year-old brother Neil Acourt has already been jailed for more than six years over the hashish scheme.

But Jamie had spent more than two years on the run until his arrest in May, during which he lived in Spain under the alias Simon Alfonzo.

Prosecutors believe both were ringleaders and that they enlisted family members to the scheme that saw drugs transported between London and South Shields, Tyne and Wear.

Both Acourts were arrested after the racist stabbing of the black 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence by a gang of white men in Eltham in 1993, but have always denied involvement.

Jurors were earlier told of his historic allegation and warned they should consider him solely on the trial’s evidence.

If the judge found they would be unable to do so, or they if they were serving or retired Metropolitan Police officers, they would have been excluded from the jury.

Reuters Photographer / Reuters
Two of the five white youths, Jamie Acourt (L) and David Norris, charged but never convicted of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Acourt, appearing in court wearing a man bun and a beard, previously denied the conspiracy to supply a Class B drug between January 2014 and February 2016, but changed his plea following the end of the prosecution’s case opening.

The basis of his plea was that it was agreed with the prosecution he was involved in the conspiracy to supply between January 1 2014 and May 2 2015 only.

Acourt fled the country after police raided a home he lived in with his partner and their two children in Bexley, south east London, in February 2016.

He was arrested by armed officers as he left a gym in Barcelona on May 4 2018 and extradited back to Britain.

His brother had been sentenced to six years and three months’ imprisonment in February last year over the same conspiracy.

Jailing him, judge Recorder Paul Clements suggested one of Neil Acourt’s problems was that he had “heard too much negativity about you and begun to believe the negative publicity about you”.

The plot, he added, would “have kept the people of the Newcastle area in spliffs for many a long day”.

It involved dozens of 600-mile round trips from London to South Shields, driving drugs up and bringing back cash.

A total of seven men have now been convicted or found guilty over the conspiracy.

They include the stepfather of Acourt’s partner, Lee Birks, 57, of Orpington, south east London, and Neil Acourt’s 65-year-old father-in-law Jack Vose, of Bexley, south east London.

In 2012, Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted at the Old Bailey of murdering Lawrence and jailed for life.

Both Acourts were arrested shortly after the murder but neither were convicted.