Lawrence suspect tried to use past to reduce sentence
Jamie Acourt given nine years in prison for drug smuggling as judge rejects his ‘troubled life’ defence
ONE OF the men accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence yesterday attempted to use his notoriety to escape a lengthy jail sentence for his part in a drug smuggling ring.
Twenty-five years after he was arrested for the murder of the 18-yearold, Jamie Acourt will for the first time in his life spend a significant period of time behind bars.
His previous minor convictions for theft and possession of cannabis had only ever resulted in non-custodial sentences.
Acourt – who has always denied being part of the racist gang that attacked Stephen in London, in 1993 – had previously denied conspiracy to supply a Class B drug between January 2014 and February 2016.
But at Kingston Crown Court on Thursday he admitted his part in a plot to sell millions of pounds worth of cannabis to towns in north-east England and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Acourt, 42, changed his plea following the opening of the prosecution’s case on the basis that he was only involved in the conspiracy between Jan 2014 and May 2015.
His defence counsel had pleaded yesterday for the judge to take Acourt’s troubled life into account when sentencing him.
Michael Holland QC said: “The entering of a plea of guilty is an indication of a man whose mind is overwhelmed by other events that have followed him since he was 16.”
Mr Holland even claimed that press coverage of Acourt’s connection with the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry had left him “unable to focus on the matters in hand at this trial” and that he had previously found it difficult to win building contracts or find legitimate employment because of his notoriety.
The barrister also pointed out in mitigation that Acourt had never been sentenced to a period of custody and had not served any “substantial period of custody in relation to the killing of Stephen Lawrence”.
But sentencing Acourt, Judge Peter Lodder told him: “You are sentenced for your leading role in a substantial conspiracy to supply cannabis.
“That you played a leading role is beyond doubt. The delivery men were taking most of the risks, you and your brother remained in the background and received the money. From this alone it is clear that you were a ringleader.”
Judge Lodder said Acourt’s decision to plead guilty and his own decision to withdraw from the conspiracy at an earlier stage had earned him a ten per cent reduction on what would have normally been a 10-year sentence.
Jamie Acourt was yesterday told by the judge that he was a ringleader in the drug-smuggling plot