Partner to die in jail for murdering EastEnders actress and two young sons
The partner of former EastEnders actress Sian Blake will spend the rest of his life behind bars for brutally murdering her and their two young children.
Cannabis dealer Arthur Simpson-Kent received a "whole-life" sentence for killing Ms Blake, 43, and their sons, Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon, after the actress, who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease, planned to leave him and take the boys with her.
All three were repeatedly hit on the head before being stabbed in the neck or throat by Simpson-Kent, 49, who painted over bloodstains to hide the slaughter at their bungalow in Erith, south-east London.
He then buried them in the back garden and told relatives and the police they had gone to see friends before fleeing to his native Ghana.
There were tears in the public gallery at the Old Bailey on Wednesday as judge Mr Justice Singh said he had been left "in no doubt" that Simpson-Kent should receive the most severe punishment available for his "truly horrific" crimes on the night of December 14/15 last year.
The court had previously heard that Ms Blake's condition meant she would have been physically incapable of defending herself from a violent attack.
In a statement read outside afterwards, Ms Blake's family said "no sentence will bring them back" and called Simpson-Kent a "monster" who attacked them in a place "where they should have felt safe and secure".
"Arthur has robbed us of our dreams and aspirations, everything we wished for Sian and our precious boys," they said.
"He stood in the dock with a smirk on his face and showed no remorse."
The court had heard that Simpson-Kent told a psychiatrist after his arrest that he used a small axe to bludgeon his three victims unconscious before using a knife.
Simpson-Kent told Dr Philip Joseph "something just snapped in me", adding: "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 account, and his claim that he was depressed and had planned to also kill himself, before bottling it.
As the impassive triple-killer looked on, the judge told the court Ms Blake, though depressed, had been "planning for the months ahead both in relation to her own interests and in relation to the boys' education."
He said: "In my judgment this was indeed a case where 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."
Ms Blake played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997. She went on to work as a voice-over artist and sign language interpreter.
The court heard that the murders happened the day after she visited her mother and asked to move back in with her, along with Simpson-Kent and the boys.
When Mrs Blake said Simpson-Kent could not, her daughter agreed to move anyway. She was never seen alive by her family again.
In the days following her death, her family received texts from her mobile phone saying she had gone away and did not want to speak to them, in what the prosecution said was "a deliberate attempt to mislead".
Bearded Simpson-Kent then flew to Ghana, where he was seen "really partying" on New Year's Eve. He was held by local police days later, and extradited back to the UK.
He admitted three counts of murder in June.