16:43 GMT +319 December 2018
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    Jamie Acourt (pictured) was never convicted for the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993

    Stephen Lawrence Murder Suspect Going to Jail...for Drug Smuggling

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    Jamie Acourt - one of five men who became prime suspects in the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, a young black man, in London in 1993 - was jailed for nine years on Friday. He pleaded guilty to supplying huge quantities of cannabis resin on the second day of his trial.

    Acourt, 42, had been on the run for two years but in May he was captured in Barcelona, where he had been living as Simon Alfonzo.

    Acourt's brother Neil, 43, has already been convicted for his role in the smuggling of hashish from Morocco and southern Spain to South Shields, near Newcastle.

    On Friday, December 7, Judge Peter Lodder QC jailed Jamie Acourt for nine years and said the sentence of six years and three months given to Neil Acourt — who has changed his name to Neil Stuart — was "unduly lenient". 

    The Acourt brothers, along with Gary Dobson, Luke Knight, and David Norris, were identified by the Crown Prosecution Service as the most likely suspects for the murder of the 18-year-old in Eltham, south east London in April 1993.

    ​The CPS eventually dropped the prosecution due to insufficient evidence and in 1994 Stephen's parents Neville and Doreen tried unsuccessfully to bring a private prosecution.

    In 1999 the Macpherson Report into Stephen's death found there was "institutional racism" within the Metropolitan Police which had significantly hampered the investigation.

    Two Killers Jailed For Life in 2012

    Finally, in 2012 Dobson and Norris were put on trial and both were eventually convicted and jailed for life.

    Prosecutor Crispin Aylett, QC, said the Acourt brothers became involved in smuggling cannabis into Britain back in 2014.

    He said the conspiracy also involved Jamie's girlfriend's stepfather, Lee Birks, 57, and Neil's father-in-law, Jack Vose, 65.

    Vose was arrested in South Shields while driving a van containing 100 kilos of hashish, worth £200,000.

    In February 2016 police raided Jamie Acourt's home in Bexley, south east London, but he was not there.

    The trial heard Acourt's girlfriend, Terri-Ann Dean, rang Acourt on his mobile and then passed the phone to a police officer, who urged him to return home or hand himself into a police station.

    "The defendant did neither of those things. Instead, he went to Spain, where he remained for over two years," said Mr. Aylett.

    The jury was told about Acourt's link to the Lawrence case.

    "His name may be familiar to you because it has been alleged he played a part in the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. He has never been convicted of any offence arising out of the investigation arising out of that death," Mr. Aylett told the jury.

    "This conviction is the culmination of several years' of complex investigation by Met detectives. Diligent policing work has enabled the team to build a case which has disbanded a drugs network valued around £4 million. Their tenacity has ensured that six members of the drugs network have now faced justice," said Detective Chief Inspector Mark Bedford of the Met's Organised Crime Command.

    Detectives had established that Jamie Acourt was central to the conspiracy, but he fled before the arrests took place. He was subsequently traced to Barcelona, where he was arrested by Spanish police on 4 May 2018, on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service. He was charged on his arrival back to the UK, on 6 June.

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    arrested, smuggling, cannabis, hashish, Metropolitan Police, Stephen Lawrence, Barcelona, London
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