A man was jailed for life today for plotting to rob and kill international pop star Joss Stone.
Kevin Liverpool, 35, was told by a judge at Exeter Crown Court that he would have to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and eight months before he could be considered for parole.
Liverpool and co-accused Junior Bradshaw, 32, harboured deep hatred for the soul singer. The defendants, both of St Stephen's Close, Longsight, Manchester were convicted by a jury of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to rob after just four hours' deliberations following a three-week trial.
Judge Francis Gilbert QC, The Recorder of Exeter, told Liverpool: "You intended to rob her and kill her and dump her body in the river, according to your words, and then leave the country with your accomplice Junior Bradshaw." Sentencing on Bradshaw was adjourned until a later date.
The judge told Liverpool: "It is clear from your text messages on your phone that from as early as November 2010 you had been planning to rob someone from what you hoped would be in excess of £1 million. By January 2011 you wanted a semi-automatic handgun and you had identified Joss Stone as the target. You had no reason to target her except that she was a wealthy young woman as she was a successful singer.
"You assumed as she was a friend of the royal family she would be able to give you money of that sort of amount. She was a random target that you choose because she was a popular singer who you thought was wealthy."
The judge said that Liverpool had recruited Bradshaw into the scheme. He also branded Liverpool as "dangerous" and said the public needed protection from people like him. "Life imprisonment is what it says," the judge told Liverpool. "It is an indefinite sentence and you will not be released before it is considered safe for you to be released."
The judge said he was considering passing a hybrid sentence on Bradshaw, meaning he would receive a custodial sentence but would most likely serve it in a secure psychiatric unit.
In a statement after the verdicts, Joss said: "I'd like to thank everyone for all their support and kind wishes. I am relieved the trial is now over and that these men are no longer in a position to cause harm to anyone."
Superintendent Steve Parker, who led the investigation, welcomed the convictions. "This has been a long and difficult investigation," he said.