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

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Pa­trick Sawer

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

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