Killer's mum: why I turned my son in
A MOTHER who turned her killer son over to police said she had no regrets even though he faces years in jail for the brutal murder.Jimi-Lee Stewart was one of a gang of three found guilty at Norwich Crown Court on Friday of murdering 17-year-old Simon Everitt in an attack motivated by sexual jealousy and inspired by a horror film.
A MOTHER who turned her killer son over to police said she had no regrets even though he faces years in jail for the brutal murder.
Jimi-Lee Stewart was one of a gang of three found guilty at Norwich Crown Court on Friday of murdering 17-year-old Simon Everitt in an attack motivated by sexual jealousy and inspired by a horror film.
Stewart, 25, was arrested after confessing all to his mother, Susan Lewis, who then made the heart-wrenching decision to tell Norfolk police about the horrendous crime.
Det Chief Insp Steve Strong, who led the inquiry, praised her bravery, saying she provided the foundation stones to help officers establish exactly what happened to the engineering student from Yarmouth.
He described the method in which Simon was killed - beaten, kidnapped and tied to a tree in remote woodland before being doused in petrol and set alight - as like something from gangster movie The Godfather.
Speaking after the case, Ms Lewis said: “It was a painful decision to have to make - probably the most difficult decision of my life - but I had to do what my conscience told me and what I thought was right for Jimi.
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“I think he wanted me to tell the police. He broke down in tears as he told me and he was close to suicide for days after.”
Ms Lewis, from Yarmouth, gave evidence in court supporting Stewart's account that he had gone along with a plan to scare Mr Everitt, but that he had no idea he would be killed.
However, after deliberating for nearly 22 hours, the jury of eight women and three men rejected that account, reaching a unanimous guilty verdict on Stewart, of Nelson Road Central, Yarmouth, and majority verdicts of 10 to 1 on Jonathan Clarke, 20, of Telford, Shropshire, and Maria Chandler, 40, of Lancaster Road, Yarmouth.
None of the defendants showed any emotion as the verdicts were announced. Mr Justice Calvert-Smith adjourned sentencing until June 26, but said all three faced a life sentence.
He told the jury: “You have had to endure the sort of evidence that jurors are very rarely subjected to. You have shown great fortitude.”
Reacting to the guilty verdicts, Simon's father and stepmother Vince and Susan Everitt said in a statement: “His death has left a gaping hold in our lives; one that can never be filled. The nature of this untimely death can only make the recovery period for us as a family even more difficult and prolonged.”
Despite her decision to give evidence against her son, Ms Lewis said she and Stewart were still in close contact.
“I couldn't keep something like this to myself,” she said.
“Me and Jimi are fine. We still speak and I visit him in prison. He understands why I had to do it. I don't believe he is capable of killing somebody - he just isn't like that. But he did get caught up in something that ended in a terrible thing happening.”
Recalling the night Stewart confessed, she said: “He went through every detail and was crying like I'd never seen him before. I just don't think he could keep it to himself.”
The court heard how Simon's body was found dumped in a ditch near woods at Mautby, near Yarmouth, in June last year. The discovery came shortly after Ms Lewis made a dramatic 999 call outlining how he had been set on fire.
Simon had been dating the same woman, Fiona Statham, as Stewart and Clarke, They plotted to kill him when they realised Miss Statham had finally chosen to be with Simon.
Pretending to be his friend, Stewart lured Simon to a lay-by at Corton, near Lowestoft. It was there that he was attacked and bundled into the boot of Chandler's car.
Jurors were shown a scene from spoof horror movie Severance in which a female character is tied to a tree, covered in petrol and set on fire. This, prosecutors said, inspired the method used to kill Simon.
Det Chief Insp Strong said: “For any parent to lose their child is horrific, but for it to happen in this manner is unthinkable.
“This is not something you expect to be happening in Norfolk - it is something that should only belong in films like The Godfather.
“This just shows that reality can sometimes be worse than fiction.”
One of the most challenging aspects of the case for the police and Crown Prosecution Service was convincing witnesses to give evidence against a backdrop of violence and intimidation.
Det Chief Insp Strong added: “We have to recognise how hard it was for many of these witnesses, including Susan Lewis, to come to court.
“But I think they realised how serious this crime was and knew they could not allow it to go unpunished.”