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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Police believe he committed the murders because she was planning to leave him and take the children
Number of victims: 3
Date of murder: December 13, 2015
Date of arrest: January 9, 2016 (in Ghana)
Date of birth: May 16, 1967
Victims profile: His partner, former EastEnders actress Sian Blake, 43, and their two sons Zachary, 8, and Amon, 4
Method of murder: Beating and stabbing with knife
Location: Erith, London, England, United Kingdom
Status: On October 5, 2016, he was given a whole-life sentence after he pleaded guilty to the murders

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Arthur Simpson-Kent murdered his partner, former EastEnders actress Sian Blake, 43, and their two sons Zachary, aged eight, and Amon, four, by beating and stabbing them to death at their home in Erith, London, in December 2015.

Police believe he committed the murders because she was planning to leave him and take the children. He buried their bodies in the garden and later fled to Ghana in an attempt to evade justice, but was caught and returned to the UK. On 5 October 2016, he was given a whole-life sentence after he pleaded guilty to the murders.


Lover who claimed something 'just snapped' in him before he battered ex-EastEnders actress Sian Blake and their two young sons to death with an AXE is given a whole life sentence

  • Hairdresser Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, has admitted killing Sian Blake, 43

  • He also pleaded guilty to murdering their sons Zachary, 8, and Amon, 4

  • Family vanished and bodies were found three weeks later buried in garden

  • Ms Blake played Frankie in 56 episodes of EastEnders from 1996 to 1997

By Mark Duell for MailOnline

October 5, 2016

The hairdresser who beat and stabbed former EastEnders actress Sian Blake and their children to death before fleeing to Ghana was jailed for life today.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, killed Sian Blake, 43, and their sons, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, before burying their bodies in the garden of their home in Erith, Kent.

The Old Bailey was told he had carried out the premeditated attack on the victims who had been 'unable to defend themselves' after becoming aware of her plan.

Simpson-Kent later told a psychiatrist that something just snapped in me’ before he grabbed hold of an axe in the kitchen and hit Ms Blake on the back of her head.

Cannabis dealer Simpson-Kent, who fled to his native Ghana before being extradited back to Britain, admitting the killings and must now complete a whole life sentence.

There were tears in the public gallery today as Mr Justice Singh said he had been left ‘in no doubt’ that Simpson-Kent should spend the rest of his life in prison.

As the impassive triple-killer looked on, the judge told the court: ‘Each murder involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning.

‘At the very least that must be true of the murder of each of the two little boys individually, and in turn after the defendant had already killed Sian Blake.

‘Further, and in any event, there were serious aggravating features of this case. Each of the victims was particularly vulnerable because of age or disability.

‘There was an abuse of position of trust. There was concealment of the bodies. He made efforts to remove evidence of his crimes at the house, including repainting.

‘He sought to lay a false trail by using Sian Blake's mobile phone. He lied to the police and others about the whereabouts of the family.’

The court heard that Simpson-Kent told psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph something just snapped in me’.

He added: ‘I felt as if I had just been pushed off a diving board and was falling. I grabbed hold of a small axe that was kept on a ledge in the kitchen.

‘Sian's head was bent low down and she was bent over looking at the floor. I approached her from the side and hit her at the back of the head as hard as I could and she fell unconscious at the first blow.

‘After that I hit her repeatedly on the head. My mind was blank and I was focusing on doing and not thinking. It was like I was there but not there.’

However, Mr Justice Singh said he rejected Simpson-Kent's claim that he was depressed and planned to also kill himself, before bottling it.

Yesterday, Ms Blake’s family revealed in emotional court statements how they suffer nightmares about how her partner murdered her and their sons.

Her cousin Cheryl Golding told how she is still racked with grief over Ms Blake's death and can imagine the terror in her eyes when she was attacked.

She said: 'I have nightmares, visions of how I suppose they were murdered - the terror in their eyes, the look that would have been on Sian's face.

'Sian, in life, would want the best in people (and didn't) comprehend that sometimes people do evil things. She would simply say, "Why do people want to do that?"'

Ms Golding added: 'I suffer each day and night with these thoughts going through my head. Why did they have to die? They could have been left alone.'

And Ms Blake's mother said the family have lived a ‘life sentence’ of pain and sorrow since she and her two sons were murdered by ‘monster’ Simpson-Kent.

Lindell ‘Pansy’ Blake said the family continued to suffer the impact of the killing of her ‘beautiful daughter’ and her ‘angels’ of grandsons.

Mrs Blake told how her faith had been sorely tested by what happened after her terminally ill daughter decided to leave the controlling Simpson-Kent and return to live with her in Leyton, East London.

Mrs Blake said: 'I would give my life for another moment with my daughter. Time is supposed to be a great healer but our wounds are open and bare for everyone to see. We have scars where Arthur has taken what was not his to take.’

In her statement, Mrs Blake said her daughter was ‘vibrant, she could light up a room with her smile’. The 43-year-old actress lived for her sons, she said, adding: ‘She was besotted with Zachary and Amon. They completed her.’

Mrs Blake said: ‘We live knowing how Sian and the children would have been scared, terrified, before this monster slaughtered them in their home.’

Earlier, the court heard Ms Blake - the family's main breadwinner, who played Frankie Pierre in EastEnders - had recently been diagnosed with terminal motor neurone disease.

The condition, along with her ‘unhealthy’ relationship, led her to consider selling their home and moving back in with her close family.

Ms Blake's condition had weakened her arms and hands to the extent that she would not have been able to fight off an attacker, the court was told.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said Ms Blake was planning to return to live with her family ‘because of her condition and because of the state of their relationship’.

Mr Heywood said: ‘The evidence suggests, and this much is not disputed, that, on the night of December 14 2015, the defendant killed each of them in turn with heavy, deliberate, repeated blows with a blunt instrument not since recovered, and then by cutting and stabbing them with a bladed weapon in a way that ensured their deaths.

‘He then covered his crimes by moving, wrapping and burying each of them, cleaning and partially painting his home.

‘He misled friends, family and the police, among others, as to what he had done and where his partner and children had gone.’

Ms Blake last saw her family face to face on Sunday December 13, when she went to her mother Lindell Blake's home in Leyton, the court heard.

Mr Heywood said she asked her mother if the four of them, including Simpson Kent, could move in to the property.

When Mrs Blake said Simpson Kent could not, her daughter ‘appeared to accept it’, the lawyer said.

He added: ‘Her family encouraged her to move sooner or later. Although no firm arrangement was made, the understanding was that she and the children would move over the coming holiday period, Christmas, even though she had originally requested a delay until the spring.

‘That was the last time Sian Blake was directly seen alive by family members.’

In the days following her death, her family tried to contact her and received texts from her mobile phone saying she had gone away, the court was told.

A message sent to her sister Ava read: ‘I'm taking time to myself and my children without constant opinions from family and friends.’

It added: ‘I have had enough of appeasing everyone. We are away and I will not be calling or speaking to anyone for a few months.’

Mr Heywood said: ‘The defendant, using her (Ms Blake's) phone, was sending the messages.’

He added: ‘It indicates a deliberate attempt to mislead by the defendant.’

The lawyer added that, after Ms Blake and her children were dead, Simpson Kent ‘appears to have removed all of the possessions of Sian Blake and the two boys’, including clothes and shoes, from the house.

Members of Ms Blake's family sobbed as the court heard that she and the two boys were hit on the head before being stabbed in the neck or throat.

They were then stripped naked before being buried in the back garden of the Pembroke Road bungalow where they lived.

Yesterday, bearded Simpson-Kent sat impassively in the dock wearing a maroon sweatshirt, occasionally shutting his eyes as the court heard the case against him.

Mr Heywood said that, as police launched a missing persons investigation into Ms Blake and her children, he booked a flight from Glasgow to Accra, via Amsterdam.

In a message to a friend, he said: ‘I can't go into details about what I have done but I only have 2 choices. Go to Ghana one way or Die (sic).’

While in the Ghanaian town of Busua, the court heard, he told a local man he ‘had killed his girlfriend first and then he had killed the two children afterwards’.

He was seen ‘really partying’ on New Year's Eve and was spotted taking two young women to a cafe the following morning.

He was later tracked down by police and arrested. When interviewed by detectives in Accra, he claimed there had been a murder-suicide pact between him and Ms Blake because of her illness - but nothing was written down.

Mr Heywood said: ‘He said they had both agreed that the boys should be killed. He said that the reason that the children should be killed was because he was not in a good relationship with his in-laws.’

The court was also told that the family had concluded by last year that Simpson-Kent's relationship with Ms Blake was 'an unhealthy and controlling one'.

Also yesterday, Jim Sturman QC, for Simpson-Kent, told the court in mitigation that the couple had previously discussed 'ending it all' because of her illness.

But the lawyer added: ‘There was no agreement to kill in this way and it was against this backdrop that the guilty pleas were entered.

‘It is not suggested that the killings were a mercy killing. It is our case that Simpson Kent snapped under the pressure of the disease, the way it was killing Sian and the inevitability of it all.'

He added that the triple killer was ‘not a man prone to violence’, saying: ‘What happened on that night was a truly extraordinary and out-of-character murder.’

He said Simpson-Kent had told his defence team that ‘in prison there are triggers that being back memories of Sian and the boys every day’.

The killer had added: ‘Every day I break down. I will face it every day forever. The punishment is inside my head, the guilt for what I have done.’

The family vanished last December and their bodies were found three weeks later buried in the garden of their home.

The following month, Simpson-Kent was arrested at London Heathrow Airport after agreeing to his extradition from Ghana.

In June, Simpson-Kent pleaded guilty to their murders when he appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from top security Belmarsh prison.

After a family member raised concerns with the NSPCC, police officers went to the family home and spoke to Simpson-Kent.

In the weeks after the murder, police launched a manhunt for Simpson-Kent, who had fled to Ghana via Glasgow and Amsterdam on December 18 after spending a night with a friend in Camden and taking £700 from his partner's bank account.

Detectives followed him to Ghana where he was arrested on January 9 and extradited in February.

After today's sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn, from Scotland Yard's Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: 'Arthur Simpson-Kent claimed that Sian allegedly expressed a desire to end her life as her motor neurone disease progressed and that they had agreed a suicide pact.

'He even suggested he killed his own children as he and Sian agreed that no one else could raise them the way that they were accustomed to.

'His claims have caused further distress to Sian's incredibly close-knit family, who have come from all over the world to support the investigation and provide evidence that has shown his claims were just another attempt to save himself.

'After concealing the bodies and attempting to hide evidence, Simpson-Kent fled to Ghana where he did not take his own life. Nor were his actions those of a man who was devastated, or even remorseful following the deaths of his family.'

An NSPCC spokesman said today: ‘The web of lies and deceit spun by Simpson-Kent before fleeing the country in a bid to evade justice prolonged the agony for Sian’s family.

‘Simpson-Kent is now behind bars for this heinous crime which not only robbed Sian’s family of a daughter and a sister, but also of any dreams, hopes and aspirations they had for her two young sons who had their whole lives ahead of them.

‘There were clearly concerns Sian and her sons were at risk of violence from Simpson-Kent and the NSPCC’s helpline received a call from a member of the public worried about their safety.

‘It’s right the Metropolitan Police has asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission to examine how they handled the investigation.

‘But it is a reminder that anyone concerned about a child being in immediate danger should call the police on 999, or the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.’

Sian Blake's devastated family reveal 'scars'

A statement from Ms Blake's family today said: 'It is extremely difficult to put into words, almost impossible, how we have suffered as a result of the murder of our loved ones - beautiful Sian, Zachary and little Amon.

'When loved ones are erased from your lives so horrifically, your life stops. We carry scars knowing Arthur has taken what wasn't his to take in a despicable, evil and violent manner.

'Arthur has robbed us of our dreams and aspirations, everything we wished and hoped for Sian and our precious boys. Arthur stood in the dock with a smirk on his face and he shows no remorse for his actions.

‘We live knowing how Sian and the children would have been scared, terrified before that monster slaughtered them in their own home - a place they should have felt safe and secure (in).

‘Arthur took away our right to see the boys grow, develop and flourish. No sentence will be adequate and bring back our loved ones, but we know "thou shalt not kill".

‘We know there will be a judgement day, and until that day our lives will pause and wait for the time when we will see our loved ones again.

‘Until that time we have our wonderful memories. Rest in peace Sian, brave Zachary and little Amon. We will see you all in heaven.

‘The family would like to thank their friends and their family for overwhelming support throughout the ordeal.

‘They also wish to extend their gratitude to the public who assisted the police in this tragic and difficult investigation, and they also wish to thank the officers involved in the murder investigation.

‘Now will you please allow the family to grieve for their loved ones in peace. Thank you.’


Sian Blake murder: Arthur Simpson-Kent admits murder of former EastEnders actress and their two children

By Tom Whitehead

June 10, 2016

The partner of former EastEnders actress Sian Blake raided her bank account to fund his escape from the UK just days after murdering her and their two children, it can now be reported.

Hairdresser Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, pleaded guilty on Friday to killing his 43-year-old girlfriend and their sons Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon in December last year.

He buried them in shallow graves in the back garden of the family home and later fled to Ghana after police questioned him over their disappearance.

In an added insult, Simpson-Kent withdrew £700 from Ms Blake’s bank account the day before flying to the African country.

His victims' bodies were not discovered for three weeks because Scotland Yard continued to treat their disappearance as a missing persons investigation until early January.

Police sniffer dogs made the gruesome discovery at the family home in Erith, Kent, two days after murder detectives took over.

The three had died from head and neck injuries but Simpson-Kent has still not given any reason for murdering them.

He was tracked down to Ghana and extradited back to the UK in February.

He showed no emotion as he entered formal guilty pleas to the killings during the five-minute hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday. He now faces three life prison terms.

Ms Blake’s mother and sister attended court to witness Simpson-Kent admit his crimes.

Outside, her sister Ava smiled and said the family were "really relieved".

Ms Blake played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997. She was suffering from motor neurone disease before she died.

She and her two sons vanished on December 13, when they visited family in Leyton.

The last time she was known to be alive was on the afternoon of December 14, when she made a telephone call to an acquaintance.

On December 16, her sister received a text from the victim's phone saying she and the children needed to get away for a while.

But detectives believe it was sent by Simpson-Kent and that he had already murdered his family.

After a family member raised concerns with the NSPCC, police officers went to the family home and spoke to Simpson-Kent.

At first, he refused to co-operate but then allowed them in and said the family had gone to visit a friend in Cambridge.

Later that day, a missing persons' investigation was launched.

Moments after police had spoken to him, Simpson-Kent left the home and spent a night with a friend in Camden, north London.

He withdrew the money from Ms Blake’s account and the next day travelled to Glasgow from where he flew to Ghana via Amsterdam on December 18.

Murder squad officers took over the investigation on January 3 as concern for the family's welfare deepened.

They searched their home using specially trained sniffer dogs which led officers to a secluded area of the back garden, Scotland Yard said.

It was there that the remains of Ms Blake and her children were uncovered despite "significant effort" to conceal them.

The police handling of the initial missing persons investigation is now subject to an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Any officers found to have failed in their duty to handle the case properly cold face misconduct charges.

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn said: "Arthur Simpson-Kent has never given a reason as to why he killed Sian, Zachary and Amon in the way that he did.

"Sian's close-knit family are devastated by the loss of their much loved sister, daughter and cousin. The deaths of Zachary and Amon have compounded their grief and they have lost two entire generations of their family to a violent and completely senseless act of murder at the hands of Simpson-Kent.

"Our efforts to bring Simpson-Kent back to the UK to face justice were greatly expedited by the help we received from the Ghanaian authorities and the National Crime Agency, who alongside us, ensured Simpson-Kent was arrested as soon as possible and returned to the UK.

"We now await the sentence date of the 4 October where I hope the family can get some form of closure for what has been, and continues to be, an incredibly difficult time for them."

Simpson-Kent will be sentenced at a three day hearing starting on October 4.

Timeline - Sian Blake’s disappearance

13 December 2015
Last seen

Sian Blake, 43, is seen by a neighbour loading black bags into the back of her Renault Scenic with her partner, Arthur Simpson-Kent. She visits family in Leyton, east London with her children Zachary, 8 and Amon, 4 – their last reported appearance.

16 December 2015
Reported missing

Mr Simpson-Kent, father of the two children, reports the family missing and police visit the family home in Erith, south-east London.

18 December 2015
Partner disappears

Officers break into the family home after Mr Simpson-Kent, 48, fails to respond to calls. He has not been seen since.

3 January 2016
Car found

Miss Blake’s silver-beige Renault Scenic is found in Bethnal Green, east London.

4 January 2016
Murder detectives investigate

Murder detectives announce they are now leading the investigation into the disappearance of 43-year-old Sian Blake, a former Eastenders actress.

5 January 2016
Three bodies found

Police say that three bodies have been found in the garden of the family home, and appeal for any information on the whereabouts of Simpson-Kent.

7 Jan 2016
‘Texts sent from Sian's phone’

Ava Blake says texts were sent from her sister Sian’s phone by her murderer, giving the family false hope that she was still alive.

She told Scotland Yard: “In the last year I have to admit my sister was not the vivacious, happy person she once was. She was a lot more quiet. She had asked to come back home and we said yes, so we really tried to plan on getting her to move back home”.

29 April 2016
Simpson-Blake admits murders

After Blake’s former partner’s extradition from Ghana to the UK in February, his barrister tells the Old Bailey: “He admits the killings. There is no objection to that being reported”.

10 June 2016
Formal guilty plea

Arthur Simpson-Kent enters a guilty plea at the Old Bailey, bia video link from Belmarsh Prison.


Sian Blake murder: Partner Arthur Simpson-Kent to return to Britain voluntarily

Partner of former EastEnders actress waives his right to challenge extradition from Ghana over her murder and that of their two young children

By Danny Boyle, and David Adadevoh -

January 26, 2016

The partner of former EastEnders actress Sian Blake has told a court he will voluntarily return from Ghana to the UK, where he is suspected of murdering her and their two children.

Arthur Simpson-Kent waived his right to challenge an extradition order when he appeared for the hearing at a magistrates' court in Accra on Tuesday.

The 48-year-old hairdresser said he voluntarily submitted to leave the country and that he would have previously returned to Britain had he not been arrested.

Mr Simpson-Kent's lawyer Justice Srem-Sai consulted with his client during a break in court proceedings to confirm that he wanted the court to waive the extradition processes to return to the UK voluntarily so he could defend himself against the suggestion by the UK authorities that he had "fled" to Ghana to escape justice.

“We have have an opportunity to advice our client, we have taken his side of the story, and we have also taken his instructions upon our advice to him. His side of the story is completely contrary to what the prosecution has read before this honourable court," he said.

“Particularly, Mr Kent is not running away from justice either here or UK, he's not in Ghana to avoid criminal proceedings in the UK. Based on that he doesn't think these extradition proceedings for him to be returned to the UK.

"But for the fact that he had be detained, he would be in the UK by now and he's willing and has actually instructed us to inform this court to use its authority that he is submitting himself voluntarily to be back into the UK where he believes there will be closure to the story."

The Presiding Judge, Justice Merley Wood, appeared surprised by the turn of events and asked Mr Simpson-Kent to confirm that was indeed his request.

He responded “Yes my Lord that is correct." The Judge further asked, “You were not coerced?”. He replied: “No”.

The judge pressed: “So I take it that this decision was voluntarily taken?". Mr Simpson-Kent replied: “Yes my Lord.”

The judge then asked the Attorney-General to expedite the process of deportation while Mr Simpson-Kent is kept in custody.

The defendant looked calm during court proceedings and was seen heartily chatting with his lawyer.

He was arrested in a small town in the west of the African country on January 9, and appeared in court for the first time on January 12.

Mr Simpson-Kent had left the UK following the deaths of Miss Blake, 43, and their two their two sons, Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon.

Scotland Yard launched a murder investigation after the trio were found buried in the garden of the family home in Erith, south east London on January 5.

However, their bodies were not discovered until 23 days after they were reported missing. The last sighting of Miss Blake was last seen in public on December 13.

Mr Simpson-Kent was detained in Ghana while eating a coconut on a beach in Busua.

Family members have suggested that Miss Blake intended to end her relationship with the suspect in the run-up to Christmas.

It remains unclear why Scotland Yard did not perform a thorough search of the family home.

Questions will also be asked about the ability of a close relative, who had been in contact with police, being allowed to leave the country and the length of time it took detectives to establish his alleged role in the case.

Mr Simpson-Kent was initially treated as a potential victim, being described as a “high-risk missing person”.

Scotland Yard issued a statement on January 4 – the day before the bodies were discovered in the garden of the family home – which said officers were “concerned for the welfare of Arthur Simpson-Kent”.

At that point, more than three weeks after the woman and children disappeared, the Metropolitan Police was insisting detectives had “an open mind concerning the circumstances of the family's disappearance”, adding: “Consideration has been given to whether they may have become victims of a crime.”

The Met has already referred the investigation to the Independent Police Complaints Commission because of what a spokesman described as “some potential issues regarding the handling and grading of the missing persons investigation”.

Miss Blake, who had motor neurone disease, played Frankie Pierre in the BBC One soap between 1996 and 1997 before going on to a number of other television roles.


Police 'walked away from triple murder suspect's house after he told them missing EastEnders star had taken her sons on trip - then they found her blood-splattered car'

  • Arthur Simpson-Kent was 'dismissive' when police asked him about partner Sian Blake's whereabouts, court hears

  • Officers left his home in Erith, Kent, when he said he had not seen her since she went to Cambridge with their sons

  • Two weeks later, they found her blood-splattered car before finding her and her sons' remains two days after that

  • Simpson-Kent was today charged with the murders of Ms Blake and their sons Zachary, eight, and Amon, four

  • He was remanded in custody after appearing in Ghanaian court ahead of a extradition hearing in two weeks' time

  • 48-year-old was arrested at seaside resort 200 miles from Accra, where he slept on bamboo bed in secret hideaway

  • He is being held in Ghana's equivalent of MI5 - where suspected terrorists are kept - following his arrest on Saturday

By Tom Kelly and Barbara Jones In Accra and Sam Tonkin and Anthony Joseph and Steph Cockroft In London For Mailonline

January 11, 2016

Police walked away from the home of triple murder suspect Arthur Simpson-Kent after he told them his missing partner and their two children had gone to see a friend in Cambridge, a court heard today.

Officers had turned up at the suspect's home in Erith, Kent, on December 16 to ask questions about Eastenders star Sian Blake's whereabouts as part of what police initially thought was a missing person's inquiry.

A Ghanaian court heard this morning how Simpson-Kent - described as 'uncooperative and dismissive' - told police that Ms Blake and their two sons Zachary and Amon had gone to see a friend and he had not seen them.

Three days later, Simpson-Kent left the country. Officers then found Ms Blake's blood-splattered car and, another two days later, her body was discovered alongside her two sons in the family's back garden. All three died of head and neck injuries.

This morning, the 48-year-old was led into Kaneshie Magistrate's Court in Accra in handcuffs - wearing the same grey t-shirt he wore when he was arrested - ahead of an extradition hearing to bring him back to the UK.

After being temporarily released from his shackles, he stood in the broken wooden dock of the packed courtroom with his arms behind his back as an indictment was read to him with the three murder charges.

He is accused of killing Ms Blake, 43, and their children, who were eight and four, by using 'unlawful harm' on or about December 16.

Following the brief hearing, Simpson-Kent was remanded in custody until 26 January, when a court will decide whether to send him back to the UK. The British Government has yet to submit a formal request for his extradition.

Ghanaian Principle State Attorney Rebecca Abjalo told how officers first visited Simpson-Kent at his home in December 16, days before he fled to Ghana.

She told the court: ‘The police officers visited the apartment where the couple lived in Erith, Kent, and spoke to Arthur Simpson-Kent. However the accused person was uncooperative and dismissive.

‘He told the officers that Sian Blake and the two children had travelled to visit friends in Cambridge and he hadn't subsequently seen them.’

She added that, on January 3, Ms Blake's Renault Scenic was found dumped in Bethnal Green, east London.

By then Simpson-Kent had travelled by coach to Glasgow before flying via Amsterdam to Ghana, where his mother was born, on December 19. The hairdresser marked a false date on his landing card, stating that he arrived on December 7, the court heard.

He then spent three weeks on the run before being seized by local police in a remote village in the west of the country.

Ms Abjalo said: ‘The police officers visited the apartment again on January 5 but the accused person had vacated the premises. After a thorough search of the property officers found the body of Sian Blake and her children buried in a shallow grave in the garden.’

She added that officers first spoke to Simpson-Kent at his family home after a relative lodged a complaint about Ms Blake’s disappearance.

Harvard trained lawyer Justice Srem-Sai, representing Simpson-Kent, complained that he had only been allowed to see his client when he arrived at the court and accused the authorities of ‘blatant violations’ of due process.

The lawyer complained that the ‘Ghanaian procedure for extradition were not followed' when Simpson-Kent was arrested and said he should be released. He refused to confirm whether the suspect would fight his extradition to the UK.

Simpson-Kent spoke only to confirm he understood the proceedings during the half hour hearing.

After he gave a mumbled response, magistrate Her Worship Rosemund Dodua Agyiri told him: ‘speak up you are not speaking to your girlfriend you are talking to me up here. I cannot hear you.’

Following the hearing, the former fugitive was returned to Ghana's maximum security jail at the Bureau of National Investigations - the country's equivalent of MI5 - where terrorists are kept while they await trial.

He had been transferred to the secretive facility - which has razor-wire topped 15ft high walls and no sign to identify it - after being arrested on Saturday in the remote area of Butre, 200 miles from Accra.

The hairdresser had been living in a cliff top lair above a remote beach, where he was holed up in the grimy shower cubicle of a locked and disused villa and allegedly spent his days drinking, dancing and lying on bamboo rafts.

Speaking about the prison, a Ghanaian security source said: ‘This is a notorious place for sensitive prisoners and people who are a threat to the country. It is used when authorities do not know where else to take suspects. There is no chance of anyone breaking out here.’

Yesterday, locals described how the suspected killer danced and partied in the resort and spent his days lying on bamboo rafts and drinking beer before his arrest.

When he was tracked down, detectives found a makeshift bed constructed out of bamboo and five coconuts, which he had consumed during his stay.

They also uncovered a stash of documents, including his UK provisional driving licence, National Insurance card, a Ghanaian passport and a cashplus Gold MasterCard, which he had tried to hide behind a wall at the top of the windy jungle path down to the sea.

Simpson-Kent fled the UK on December 19 following the deaths of his former partner and Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon, whose bodies were found on January 5.

After arriving in the area shortly before Christmas, Simpson-Kent had quickly became known to locals. When his 'wanted' picture was circulated, police received several calls with his whereabouts.

According to residents, Simpson-Kent told those in the resort that he was ‘done with his life in the UK’ and was plotting to start a new life in Ghana, even looking into buying land.

They say he got to know the locals and spent his time partying with them before his arrest. Local Idris Assoumana, who makes and sells arts and crafts, had an hour-long chat with Simpson-Kent on the beach one day and said that he welcomed the new year in at a plush rooftop party.

He claims the suspect offered him all of his possessions and $500 not to report him, yet did nothing when he refused the offer and explained he would be talking to the police.

London-born cafe owner Karole Ainoo described how she thought Simpson-Kent seemed 'almost saintly' when she first met him, as he claimed he wanted to produce cannabis for a sick relative.

She said he became a regular in the cafe and remembers him 'dancing like mad' at the New Year's Eve party at the Rainbow Hotel in the resort as he was wanted in connection with murder.

Locals said he also spoke of Ms Blake, who played man-eating Frankie Pierre in EastEnders and had motor neurone disease. Villager Kwame Eduku said: 'He said the wife is an actor and sometimes sees people kissing and playing romance with her in the movies.’

But, the fugitive was tracked down, handcuffed and driven in a pick-up truck to a nearby village on Saturday.

One resident said six police officers came to look for Simpson-Kent and they stayed out until 2am on Friday without any success. But at 7am the next day, there was a report that he had been spotted in the area, and up to 40 villagers joined the manhunt.

During the search, his bag was found in the empty hideaway. But a fisherman said he had been seen swimming in the sea and, when the search party reached the beach, they found him sitting nearby eating a coconut that he had split open with a knife.

The group told him he was under arrest for murder and he immediately raised his hands in surrender, before police handcuffed him and put him in an unmarked pick-up truck.

In a convoy alongside marked police cars with blue lights flashing and sirens wailing, The Mail on Sunday witnessed police chiefs mocking Scotland Yard as they did a 'victory lap' in Busua in front of a cheering crowd.

The truck also stopped outside the coffee shop run by Ms Ainoo, who had originally alerted police to Simpson-Kent's presence in the area.

She had reported the suspect to the Met police and Interpol after seeing a news article about him being wanted for questioning - but says he was not arrested until three days later.

'I had waited for days for the British police to turn up and talk to me since I clearly knew so much about him and his location. They apparently arrived on Friday night and they still never came near my village, or even called me,' she said.

'Soon after his arrest I got a call from the Met and I told them I was so disappointed not have been contacted by any of their officers. It was all down to Ghana police and Busua village and my friend Idris, and I'm so proud of them.

'When I asked the Met officer why they hadn't done this work themselves he told me they didn't have the powers, it had to be local police, there was too much red tape. I said, 'What about Interpol?' and he said, 'They are mainly just guys sitting in an office somewhere, just liaising.'

'I told him that local people were heroes in my eyes, as well as the Ghana police who acted so fast and efficiently without any of the Met's funding and resources.'

After being returned to the capital Accra, Simpson-Kent was paraded in front of the media with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Stony-faced, he shook his head and repeatedly said 'No' as he was questioned by journalists while sitting for nearly an hour in the corner of a room at Ghana’s CID headquarters.

Still wearing the same grey T-shirt, jeans and sandals he had on when arrested on Saturday, Simpson-Kent was eventually escorted away with his hands cuffed behind his back to be interviewed by British police.

The capture of Simpson-Kent brought to an end an international manhunt, but increased pressure on the Metropolitan Police, who are facing criticism over their handling of the case.

London-based detectives had only just arrived in the country and were still hundreds of miles away in the capital Accra at the time of his arrest.

Questions were previously asked of the force as they only discovered the bodies had been buried in the garden of their home weeks after their disappearance. They also let Simpson-Kent leave the country three days after questioning him when they were still mistakenly treating the case as a missing persons inquiry.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission watchdog is conducting a 'thorough investigation' into the case.

In response to criticism about the slow handling of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn, of the Metropolitan Police's homicide and major crime command said: 'There is nothing we or the Ghanaians could have done any quicker to get out here as quickly as we could.'

He also paid tribute to the work of the Ghanaian police in seizing Simpson-Kent.

'I want to pass on my thanks from myself and Scotland Yard and the UK authorities for all the work the Ghanaians have done for us in effecting an arrest,' DCI Gwyn said.

'The work they have done has been outstanding and I am truly, truly grateful. I cannot thank them enough for what they have done.'

He added: 'The reason we are here is for Sian's family and the boys and we are here to see justice for them.'

DCI Gwyn said it was unclear how long extradition would take. He added: ‘It’s not just as simple as putting him on an aeroplane and sending him back.'

Ghanaian Director General of CID Prosper Agblor said authorities in the country had launched a manhunt for Simpson-Kent after being contacted by British police on January 7.

Mr Agblor said Simpson-Kent had arrived in Ghana on December 19 last year but wrote on his landing card that he had arrived on December 7.

He said: ‘The suspect was alleged to have buried the bodies of the victims in a shallow grave in the garden behind their apartment in Erith in London.

‘He was believed to be hiding in Busua. Intelligence gathered on the ground led the team to Busua and Butre towns.

‘With the assistance of the Chiefs and people of the two communities and the local police, an intensive search was mounted for the fugitive.

‘Arthur Simpson-Kent was eventually smoked from a thicket near Butre where he was hiding. He was armed with a knife. He was disarmed and arrested.’

Speaking at the scene of the arrest last night, Deputy Detective Superintendent Hansen Gove from the Ghanaian police told The Mail on Sunday he was 'incredibly proud to have brought in a fugitive so quickly and calmly, without injury to anyone'.

'It will be a great pleasure to report all this to the Met police who arrived from England last night and have not been anywhere near this area or this crime. Maybe we could offer some detective training to Scotland Yard?' he added.

British cafe owner: He said he was helping a sick relative...looking back, it's chilling

When the polite, quietly spoken Englishman walked into her coffee shop in a small town in Ghana two days before Christmas, Karole Ainoo was delighted.

Like him, she was a Londoner. She had moved to Busua with her husband in early 2014 but missed home.

'My husband came into the kitchen and mentioned the customer was British. So I naturally popped out to say hello to him,' she said yesterday.

Arthur Simpson-Kent was sitting at the communal table sipping a double espresso.

Karole recalled: 'He and I ended up sitting on the sofa, engrossed in conversation.

'He seemed like a very nice gentleman – calm, quietly spoken with an educated accent. He looked like he wouldn't hurt a fly.'

He told Karole he'd had enough of England because of racism and was planning to move to Ghana.

He came into the shop, called The Cafe, every day after that. Simpson-Kent talked about marijuana. 'He told me he could extract effective herbal medication straight from cannabis. He said he'd researched it himself and was producing marijuana to help a sick relative with a neurological sickness. It seemed almost saintly to me.

'Looking back, I find this absolutely chilling.'

On New Year's Eve, Karole saw Simpson-Kent in the street.

She said: 'He gave me a strong handshake, like he didn't want to ever let go, and he pulled me close to him in a way that was too close for comfort.'

Later she bumped into him at a celebration, when he was 'partying like mad' as though he 'might have taken something'.

On New Year's Day, Simpson-Kent brought two Ghanaian girls, aged about 20 who were on holiday from Britain, into the cafe for breakfast.

Then last Wednesday one of Karole's friends in London sent her a link to a BBC report and picture about 'this man wanted for murder'.

Karole said: 'I was shocked out of my mind when I realised the picture was him. I couldn't believe he was still using the name Arthur Simpson. I woke my husband up and we agreed we must go to the police.'

She alerted her friend in London who promised to contact Scotland Yard. Yet it would be days before British detectives turned up in Ghana. In the meantime, Karole continued to see Simpson every day.

Karole said: 'The British police were still refusing to confirm he was in Ghana. And all the time I could see him in the street. I knew where he was all along – in my cafe and in my village.'


Was EastEnders Sian murdered because she was set to leave her brutal lover? DAVID JONES investigates an unhappy home life plagued by jealousy, abuse and drug use

  • Ex-wife said Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, had 'no morals' and snorted cocaine

  • He was portrayed as having sired at least seven children by six women

  • Miss Blake wanted to leave him over Christmas, the actress's sister said

  • He travelled to Ghana in December and is still being hunted by police

By David Jones for the Daily Mail

January 9, 2016

Number 54, Pembroke Road is a dilapidated, half-timbered bungalow perched above a scruffy garden whose steep slope and thick shrubbery partially obscure it from the street below.

For a long time this unloved little hideaway in the London-Kent suburbs was occupied by a reclusive widow, but five years ago, after she sold it for £180,000, locals thought their new neighbours were ‘the perfect family’.

With her cut-glass English accent and self-assured air, the 43-year-old mother, Sian Blake — who always had a smile and a friendly word — appeared vaguely familiar to some nearby residents.

Though she was middle-aged and dressed rather dowdily, a Google check would have revealed that she once played a devious femme-fatale in the TV soap EastEnders. Yet she presented herself as a jobbing sign-language teacher, and no one knew of her past fame.

If her partner, Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, seemed a little withdrawn and eccentric — wearing a cream robe and navy woollen hat, never going to work, and acting defensively whenever anyone called at the house (even the Tesco delivery man was not allowed beyond the porch) — he was affable enough.

And both parents seemed devoted to their sons, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, who were neatly turned-out, and would wave to passers-by as they played in the garden.

When the older boy stopped attending his private school last year, and his brother was not enrolled, it was widely assumed that Miss Blake — recently diagnosed with the terminal illness Motor Neurone Disease — had opted to teach them at home because she couldn’t bear to be parted from them.

All of which makes the macabre events that unfolded at Number 54 shortly before Christmas — but thanks to an apparent catalogue of blunders by the Metropolitan Police uncovered only this week — the more shocking and incomprehensible.

Miss Blake and her sons were last seen on a family visit to her mother’s house in Leyton, East London, on December 13.

Three days later, the house was visited by police officers. We now know they had been alerted by the NSPCC, who had, in turn, been contacted by Miss Blake’s family, desperately worried that she and her boys were being abused by their father.

A woman who lives opposite told me how she watched from her kitchen as Simpson-Kent stalled the police on the doorstep for ten minutes before reluctantly allowing them inside. Even then, they failed to search the property and the trio were simply assumed by the police to be ‘missing’.

Gazing again from her window at about 6am the following morning, December 17, this same neighbour says she noticed Simpson-Kent emerging from the couple’s beige Renault Scenic.

Another neighbour has reported seeing him loading black bin-bags into the car as early as December 14, the day after the last confirmed sighting of Sian Blake.

On December 18, police broke into the property. Given the fears reported by Miss Blake’s family, one might think they should then have been seeking to arrest her ex-partner as a matter of urgency.

It was not until last Sunday, January 3, the day that the Renault (which, say neighbours, Miss Blake could no longer drive because her arms were virtually paralysed owing to her illness) was found abandoned in Bethnal Green, East London, that the Met’s murder squad finally took charge of the investigation.

Within 24 hours, forensics officers were digging up the back garden: a standard task that ought to have been carried out three weeks earlier, in the view of former homicide officers who spoke out this week.

This scrubby patch of grass is conveniently secluded from the overlooking flats and houses by tall conifers and fences. In the furthermost corner, beneath a semi-transparent green awning, a shallow trench has been dug in the mud, beside which lies a child’s toy helicopter. The border has also been excavated. In one or both of these trenches, the bodies of Miss Blake and her sons were found. Post-mortem tests show that all died from injuries to the head and neck.

Meanwhile, Simpson-Kent — who surely ought to have been prevented from leaving the country at the outset of the inquiry — had ample time to prepare his departure.

After apparently sending fake texts from Miss Blake’s phone, informing her family she was ‘going away for a few weeks’, he travelled via Glasgow and Amsterdam to his native Ghana, where airport cameras in the capital Accra captured his arrival on December 19.

This begs yet another question: why did the Met only prompt a hunt for him in Ghana in the latter part of this week?

It also raises concerns over the photograph of Simpson-Kent, which police released when they first appealed for information on his whereabouts.

With his gaunt features, grey-flecked beard and short hair, the man pictured arriving in Ghana is, as one incredulous neighbour remarked, unrecognisable as the full-faced, long-haired man in the old family picture.

It emerged yesterday that British detectives were finally flying out to Africa last night — three weeks after Simpson-Kent left the UK. A senior Ghanaian police official said they had only just received official confirmation about Simpson-Kent’s possible whereabouts from Interpol.

Officers from Scotland Yard’s murder squad are due to meet police in Ghana today to help the search — beginning in the city of Cape Coast, where some of his relatives live.

Miss Blake’s family said they feared a golden opportunity to trace Simpson-Kent had been missed. Her aunt, Joeine Fearon, wrote on Facebook: ‘So what have you been doing, Mr Policeman???

She and other relatives have launched their own appeal using social media, calling on Ghanaians to join the search.

As serious questions continue to emerge over the force’s handling of this tragedy — with one former senior officer even suggesting the search might have been delayed to avoid paying officers Christmas holiday overtime — the Met has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commissions.

Matters worsened this week when Simpson-Kent’s dedicated family man image was exposed as a myth.

He was portrayed as a violent cocaine user and dealer, who has sired at least seven children by six women, most of them impressionable beauties captivated by his looks and charm.

His ex-wife Dominique Deblieux, 42, a Moroccan-French former belly-dancer whom he met in a West End nightclub 20 years ago, says she became pregnant with their now 18-year-old daughter, Isis, unaware that one of his many lovers was pregnant at the same time.

She also claims he hit Isis when she was a child, and once ended up putting his hands around her own throat during a violent row.

And she says he owes her thousands of euros in unpaid maintenance, 13 years after they separated.

‘Arthur behaves like your King Henry VIII,’ she told me from her Riviera home. ‘He has no morals. For him, women are just there to be used. To provide him with an easy living.

‘Knowing how he operates, I believe this dreadful thing has happened because Miss Blake had seen through him and was going to throw him out.’

Her grim hypothesis gained credence when Miss Blake’s sister, Ava, 51, revealed at Scotland Yard on Thursday how the actress had planned to leave Simpson-Kent over Christmas and sell the bungalow.

‘She said she didn’t want to throw him out on the street,’ said a tearful Ava, who made it plain that she believes him a triple murderer, and demanded he be returned to Britain to face justice.

The residents of Pembroke Road, in Erith, Kent, feel similarly angry. ‘It sickens me to think that he waved and smiled at me a couple of weeks ago,’ shuddered the young mother who lives opposite.

So how did Sian Blake, an admirable woman, fall into the clutches of this despicable man? The youngest of three children of Cornell Lloyd Blake and his wife Lindell, Jamaican immigrants who met working in the same London factory, she was a genuine Eastender.

Raised in a tower-block, she had an innate talent for drama, and pursued her ambition to become a leading actress, encouraged by her mother, who got divorced from Sian’s father when Sian was six.

Despite being ostracised and bullied at school — because she worked hard and improved her accent through elocution — she earned a place at Guildford School of Acting and, aged 23, got her break.

Invited to audition for a walk-on part in EastEnders, she impressed the producers so much she was offered the starring role of Frankie Pierre, a scheming, sexually-charged vixen on a mission to lure every man in Albert Square.

This was in 1996, when the soap commanded a vast audience. The role brought Sian Blake fame and comparative wealth.

In a newspaper interview she artlessly revealed she had behaved like her screen character in real life by having an affair — candour she may have come to regret. She was already receiving hate-mail and death-threats from viewers who believed home-wrecker Frankie was real.

By early 1997, EastEnders bosses were so alarmed at viewers’ hatred they wrote her out. Though she won small stage and TV roles in shows such as Casualty, her career never hit the heights again. She was last employed doing a voice-over for a video game, and taught sign language to make ends meet.

Simpson-Kent’s early years were more difficult, but he was blessed with good looks and charisma, and a modicum of talent.

The result of an affair between Ghanaian beauty Selina Ben-George and Donald Simpson-Kent, a white Englishman who ventured to West Africa first as a seaman, and later in the diamond industry, he was brought up by his maternal grandmother in Cape Coast, notorious as an 18th-century slaving port.

His mother — who has several other children and, now in her late 70s, lives quietly in Carmarthenshire — came to Britain to work as a nurse. In 1975, when he was eight, he was sent to live with her.

Little is known about his education; on his Facebook page, he describes himself as ‘homeschooled’.

By all accounts, however, he worked as a model as a young man and also trained as a hair-stylist — his website lists a string of prestigious clients.

His old friends can’t believe him capable of murder.

Donovan Nelson, 56, a close friend since 1989 and one of two witnesses at his wedding to Dominique Deblieux, says he was an innocuous, mild-mannered man, ‘so laid-back he was boring’.

‘None of his friends can believe this is happening,’ he told me. ‘It doesn’t sound like him. I have never known him to be involved in any scuffle or fight. He was never violent.’

He was, however, undoubtedly a feckless user of women.

When Dominique became pregnant, in 1998, he confessed that he had three other children, including a son now 25 and also a model.

At that time his own career was beginning to falter; he was bone-idle, his French former wife says, and snorting too much cocaine.

When he was not peddling the drug, she says, he would lie on the sofa, watching TV and demanding to be fed or otherwise entertained.

Soon after they met, Dominique helped him trace his father, and he and the ageing ex-colonial adventurer seemed to get along famously. Yet for reasons she cannot fathom, her husband abruptly stopped seeing him and began to resent white people with such passion that he joined a black supremacist cult and spoke of making a new life in Ghana.

So how did Simpson-Kent meet Miss Blake? The details are yet to emerge, yet he was clearly at pains to conceal their relationship. Not even his old pal Donovon knew they were living in Erith with two sons.

And though he maintained contact with daughter Isis until two years ago (when they fell out because he refused to pay for her to travel from France to see him), Dominique says she, too, was unaware of his latest domestic arrangement.

Was there some dark reason for his secrecy? Why did he always refuse to allow visitors into his home by saying either that ‘building work’ was going on, or the children were ‘napping’?

These might be lines of inquiry that the police are — very belatedly — pursuing.

Meanwhile, the residents of Pembroke Road raise disturbing questions of their own. Was Miss Blake’s incurable disease, diagnosed last autumn, according to one source, an important factor in the murders?

Why did Zachary, ‘usually such a lively lad’, look so forlorn as he stood at the bungalow door beside his frail mother in early October, when a neighbour called?

Why were the boys kept off school so long? And why, two months ago, did their father dump their mattress on the porch, where it remains?

Perhaps the long-overdue garden dig has already provided some answers. The rest might well lie somewhere in West Africa.

For Sian Blake’s grieving and angry family, the one mercy is that Britain and Ghana have an extradition treaty.

But Arthur Simpson-Kent’s homeland is a thickly forested equatorial country the size of Britain, with porous borders. Its police are hardly renowned for the quality of their detective work.

How the Met must regret allowing the only suspect in this deeply distressing murder case such an easy passage.

Additional reporting: Arthur Martin and Tim Stewart


NSPCC told police of fears that suspected killer of EastEnders actress was abusing her children

Relatives reveal how Sian Blake was preparing to leave Arthur Simpson-Kent before she vanished, as they call on police to bring him to justice

By Tom Morgan and agency -

January 8, 2016

Police did nothing to stop the partner of EastEnders actress Sian Blake fleeing to Africa despite being warned he had been abusing her and her children.

Scotland Yard received complaints on December 16 about Arthur Simpson-Kent after a family member called an NSPCC helpline so say he had been abusing Miss Blake, 43, and their two sons.

The police watchdog has now launched formal investigations over alleged failures by police after the murders of Miss Blake and her sons Zachary, eight, and Amon, four.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Miss Blake and her sons died as a result of head and neck injuries. It comes after a picture proved Simpson-Kent, the prime suspect, had fled to Ghana just days after the domestic violence tip-off.

He was a branded a triple killer by the devastated sister of Miss Blake who demanded he is "brought back to justice" from Africa.

Ava Blake told how texts were sent from her sister's phone after she vanished and revealed how Sian was planning to to leave Simpson-Kent over the Christmas period.

Miss Blake, 51, said her sister had told their mother, Pansy, that she wanted to get out of her relationship "a long time ago".

She said the texts alleged to be from her sister said she was going away "for a few weeks", then it became "a few months".

"No way," she said. "We're a big family and very, very close. She would never say that. She would never not speak to us."

She added: "We don't use text lingo. We write full sentences. Starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop. People always teased us but we did that.

"The way she signed off was to write 'Sian' - her full name - and cousins had nicknames and we would use them. The ones that came through were very poor grammatically, bad spelling, not my sister."

The bodies of Miss Blake and her sons, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, were found in the garden of the family home in Erith, Kent, on Tuesday.

In an interview at Scotland Yard, Ava said: "In the last year I have to admit my sister was not the vivacious, happy person she once was. She was a lot more quiet. She had asked to come back home and we said yes, so we really tried to plan on getting her to move back home.

"She said she would come back, sort of Christmas week, and after Christmas they would arrange about selling the property she lived in. In our opinion the relationship had already come to an end but she hadn't quite made that break or that decision to leave Arthur.

"She may not have told him. She also wanted to do it in a way that caused the minimum amount of discomfort to him as well. She didn't want to throw him out on the street but give him time to find somewhere else to live. That was the only point she was wavering on."

She added: "Unfortunately I believe Arthur was responsible. I want him to face justice and explain why. It's my nephews more than anything.

"My brother is angry. My cousins are angry. They are angry about Sian, but the boys have devastated us. We have lost a generation. We can never replace them.

"I want him to be brought back to justice. He'll have to answer to the courts of this country and to God eventually. I don't know what is going through his mind."

Miss Blake was last seen visiting family in Leyton, east London with her sons on December 13. Police interviewed Mr Simpson-Kent, 48, the children's father, at the family home in Erith, Kent, after she was reported missing three days later.

Officers failed to launch forensic searches at the property until Tuesday, when the bodies were discovered in the garden.

Miss Blake broke down in tears as she paid tribute to her sister.

"I have lost my sister and my nephews. I'm not going to see them grow up," she said.

"I'm going to miss Sian. She was my sister and someone I loved. I was proud of her as an actress. I just wanted the best for her and my nephews.

"We always had hope because of certain things we were told by police. That hope was always there."

Scotland Yard has refused to confirm reports that Simpson-Kent, 48, has fled to Africa, but a spokesman said: "Whether or not he is in the country is one line of inquiry."

Colin Sutton, a former detective chief inspector with the Metropolitan Police, says he believes the hunt for Sian Blake and her two sons may have been affected by police chiefs spending less on overtime for specialist officers and technicians in the wake of government cuts.

He said: "These sort of inquiries and searches required are very expensive at the best of times, requiring lots of highly-trained officers, specialists and technical equipment and its operators.

"There were three bank holidays in the period between the two searches, specialist search officers were all booked up for counter-terrorism searches for New Year’s Eve and almost all teams, throughout the Met, were on minimum staffing levels.

"It is the same every year, but while in the past any pressing need could have overtime thrown at it, officers and technicians called in and the job got done, the financial situation now is very different.

"So much so that any middle-ranking officer thinking of going for a full search would have had to convince his/her boss that it was definitely needed. Which, in the absence of a smoking gun, is a difficult thing to do."

Miss Blake, 43, played Frankie Pierre in the BBC soap in the mid-Nineties, and had been suffering from motor neurone disease in recent years.

The Metropolitan Police voluntarily referred their search for Miss Blake, 43, and her two sons to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

IPCC Associate Commissioner Tom Milsom said: “The IPCC will be conducting a thorough investigation into how police responded to the concerns for their welfare and their disappearance.”


Sian Blake murder inquiry: Hunt for boyfriend after three bodies found in ex-EastEnders actress' garden

Questions for Metropolitan Police over alleged three-week delay in forensic searches at Miss Blake's home

By Tom Morgan, and Victoria Ward -

January 5, 2016

Scotland Yard is facing questions after taking almost three weeks to discover a missing ex-EastEnders actress and her two children had been buried in her own back garden.

Officers delayed forensic searches at Sian Blake's home for up to 18 days after she disappeared, despite her boyfriend Arthur Simpson-Kent raising suspicions by vanishing within hours of meeting police.

One former detective said the timeline of events appeared "remarkable" as officers stepped up their "urgent" hunt for Mr Simpson-Kent after confirming three bodies had been discovered.

Miss Blake, who played Frankie Pierre in the BBC soap and had been suffering motor neurone disease in recent years, was last seen alive with Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, on December 13.

Police interviewed Mr Simpson-Kent, 48, at the family home in Erith, south east London, after the alarm was raised three days later. The first search of the home was carried out on December 18 after Mr Simpson-Kent, a hairdresser for fashion houses, failed to answer follow-up calls.

Colin Sutton, a former detective chief inspector with the Metropolitan Police, told The Daily Telegraph it seemed surprising "on the face of it" that police forensic teams only started digging yesterday.

He said: "The police may have had their reasons, and perhaps had reason to believe that she was still alive and had just run away. But I have to admit that at first blush, there would appear to have been a number of factors that should have increased the concern. It seems so obvious that something should have been done sooner that I would like to think there must have been a reason to do otherwise."

Miss Blake – who played homewrecker Frankie in the BBC soap in the mid-1990s – had visited family in Leyton, east London with her sons on December 13. The sign language teacher was in the company of Mr Simpson-Kent when she was last seen loading bags into the boot of her car.

Neighbours claim Mr Simpson-Kent, a hairdresser, returned to Ms Blake's family home in Erith the following day and was seen removing bags from her Renault Scenic.

One who did not want to be named told last night how she had seen officers speaking to Mr Simpson-Kent.

She said: "I was here when the police came and spoke to him on the 16th, they came back every day since, knocking on the door, asking people questions.

"They broke a window at one stage and got in the house to look around and today they did the same but this time they've obviously found something."

Miss Blake is believed to have voiced her health concerns in recent weeks, with ambulances being seen outside her Kent home on several occasions.

The actress was 24 when she left EastEnders after being inundated with hate mail from viewers who took a considerable dislike to her character, known for seducing men in relationships.

She said viewers struggled to separate her from her character, who arrived on the square as a soul singer with a band. She appeared in 56 episodes between 1996 and 1997.

Miss Blake's next-door neighbour Sammy Sanni-Alashe, 52, said: "I can't believe it, I'm so sad, I can't believe this news. I am crying inside, she always used to be playing in the garden with the children, I am just so sad, I don't know what to say.

"I can't believe someone would do this to them, to a family, it's horrible. I'm just in so much shock I can't speak, I don't know what to do, it's terrible, it's so sad."

Another neighbour, Kim Parry, 34, added: "We moved here about five months ago, I would see her walking with the children sometimes, she seemed nice. The kids seem well behaved, they were lovely, the whole family was."

Detective Superintendent Paul Monk, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "Sadly, as part of a thorough forensic search we are carrying out at the family's home in Erith, we recovered three bodies from the garden of the property.

"As yet, we have not formally identified the bodies but this is of course a significant development and Sian's family have been informed. This continues to be a fast moving investigation and our thoughts are with Sian's family at this time."

He added: "We continue to appeal for any information that could help us trace Sian's partner Arthur Simpson-Kent. If anyone has any information about where he is or his movements since 16 December then please get in touch with us.

"I would also like to ask anyone who may have seen Sian and her children, or who may have information about their movements since the last confirmed sighting on 13 December, to call us."

Another neighbour, Kim Parry, 34, added: "We moved here about five months ago, I would see her walking with the children sometimes, she seemed nice.

"The kids seem well behaved, they were lovely, the whole family was.

"It's so shocking to hear they've found three bodies, I have a small child myself and it's just scary.

"I hope they find who did this, I'm just in shock and scared right now."



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