NEWS
06/12/2018 15:25 GMT | Updated 06/12/2018 16:17 GMT

Former Stephen Lawrence Murder Suspect Jamie Acourt Changes Plea In Drugs Trial

Jamie Acourt admitted to being the ringleader of a plot worth millions.

A man who was suspected in the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence has admitted being a kingpin in 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 has already been jailed for more than six years over the hashish scheme.

But Acourt 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 black 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence by a gang of white men in Eltham in 1993, but have always denied involvement.

PA Ready News UK
Jamie Acourt

Jurors were earlier told of the 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.

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.

Jailing Neil Acourt in February last year over the same conspiracy, judge Recorder Paul Clements suggested one of the defendant’s problems was that he had “heard too much negativity about you and begun to believe the negative publicity about you”.

PA Ready News UK
A younger Jamie Acourt arrives to give evidence in a public inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence

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.

Jamie Acourt, currently of no fixed address, will be sentenced for the drugs charge on Friday.