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Suspect in murders of ex-EastEnders actress and children 'smoked from thicket'

Published 10/01/2016

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British police have yet to request the extradition of the suspected killer of ex-EastEnders actress Sian Blake following his capture in Ghana.

Arthur Simpson-Kent was found on a stony beach reportedly eating a coconut on Saturday after fleeing the UK following the deaths of his former partner and their two young sons, Zachary, eight, and four year-old Amon.

Ghanaian authorities told how he was "smoked from a thicket" where he had been hiding and arrested.

Pictures broadcast on BBC News show Simpson-Kent with his hands cuffed behind his back being paraded in front of cameras and journalists in the West African country.

Scotland Yard detectives have flown to Ghana but have yet to make a formal request for the 48-year-old's extradition.

At a news conference in Ghana's capital Accra, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn, of the Metropolitan Police's homicide and major crime command, heaped praise on the "outstanding" work of the Ghanaian authorities.

He said: "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.

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

"The second thing is our thoughts continue to, and always do remain with, Sian's family and the boys, this is why we are here, this is why we do what we do, and we are here to get justice for them."

British police have faced criticisms that their murder investigation has been blighted with delays.

But Mr Gwyn insisted that "there is nothing we or the Ghanaians could have done any quicker to get out here as quickly as we could".

The Ghanaian authorities cannot hold a suspect for more than 48 hours without putting him before a court, so it is likely Simpson-Kent will go before a judge tomorrow and that police will apply to have him remanded in custody.

In images broadcast on the BBC, a scruffy-looking Simpson-Kent looks stony-faced as he is escorted by Ghanaian officials with his hands cuffed behind his back.

An international manhunt was launched for the former model turned hairdresser after he went missing following the death of his girlfriend and children.

Ms Blake and her two sons were last seen on December 13. Their bodies were eventually discovered by police three weeks later buried in the garden of their home in Erith, Kent.

It later emerged that Simpson-Kent left the country after officers spoke to him on December 16.

The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for investigation.

Ghana CID director general Prosper Agblor said police moved into the Western region of Ghana in the early hours of Saturday morning and "an intensive search was mounted for the fugitive".

He added: "Arthur Simpson-Kent was eventually smoked out, or smoked from, a thicket near Butre where he was hiding.

"He was armed with a knife. He was disarmed and arrested."

They were acting on tip-offs from locals who spotted Simpson-Kent and realised he was a wanted man after seeing reports on social media.

The director general added: "The fugitive is in our custody awaiting an official request from the British Government via the diplomatic channels for his extradition to the United Kingdom."

Scotland Yard said an extradition request will be made "in due course".

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