Murder trial: 'I loved Simon'

THE woman at the heart of a tangled set of relationships, which prosecutors claim led to a brutal murder, yesterday told of her love for victim Simon Everitt.

THE woman at the heart of a tangled set of relationships, which prosecutors claim led to a brutal murder, yesterday told of her love for victim Simon Everitt.

Day three of the trial at Norwich Crown Court saw Fiona Statham take centre stage as jurors heard she had been in and out of relationships with Mr Everitt and two defendants, Jonathan Clarke and Jimi-Lee Stewart, over a period of nine months.

On June 7 last year, the day the 17-year-old was last seen alive, Miss Statham split up with Stewart via text message to return to Mr Everitt. She told the court: “I didn't love Jimi; I loved Simon.”

Later that month, Mr Everitt's body was found dumped in a swamp near Mautby woods, outside Great Yarmouth. He had been assaulted, tied to a tree, doused in petrol and set on fire.

It is claimed he was abducted and killed by Clarke, Stewart and their friend Maria Chandler. The two men are said to have acted out of “sexual jealousy”.

Recalling the day Mr Everitt disappeared, Miss Statham said she spent the afternoon with him and Stewart. She caught the bus back to her flat and arranged to meet Stewart there. Mr Everitt initially planned to join them at the flat but felt ill. Stewart never arrived.

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She said she became concerned for Mr Everitt's safety and tried to ring him. There was no answer.

Instead she rang Stewart's number. The phone was answered but nobody spoke.

She heard traffic noises, a thumping sound and Mr Everitt shouting: “Jimi help me, please, I'm begging you.”

She later asked Stewart about this phone call but he said he could not remember it as he “had concussion”.

The court heard Miss Statham, who was 19 at the time of the alleged murder, had married another man in the summer of 2007. That relationship ended in October 2007 when she met Clarke.

She split up with Clarke in November 2007 to begin a relationship with Mr Everitt.

Mr Everitt proposed to her the following Valentine's day and she accepted. Within a week she had split up with him to “get with” Stewart.

This relationship ended on June 7 and she decided Mr Everitt was the man she wanted to be with. Within a week of his disappearance she went back to Stewart. He convinced her Mr Everitt had returned to the north of England, where he originally came from, and would not be coming back.

On one occasion, mother-of-one Miss Statham said she had felt hurt after she heard Stewart tell another woman he loved her.

Asked in cross-examination whether she had ever thought her actions would have made the three men feel similarly hurt, she answered: “No.”

Asked whether she had played the men off against each other, she said: “No, I didn't.”

She said she had never been in a relationship with them all at the same time but admitted: “I did cheat on one of them once or twice.”

Stewart and Chandler had helped in the search for Mr Everitt following his disappearance. Stewart had come with her to the police station to report him missing. He also helped distribute posters around Yarmouth.

Asked to describe Mr Everitt's relationship with Clarke, known as “Munch”, she said: “They didn't like one another. I always heard Jonathan say he wanted to knife Simon. He wanted to kill him.”

She said Mr Everitt and Stewart had: “Got on all right, up to the point where I split up with Jimi to get with Simon.”

Jonathan Clarke, 19, from Telford, Jimi-Lee Stewart, 25, of Nelson Road Central, Yarmouth, and Maria Chandler, 40, of Lancaster Road, Yarmouth, all deny murder.

The case continues.