UK

Yacht sinking case supergrass discredited

Conspiracy to murder charges against three people have been dropped after a supergrass's evidence was discredited.

The case involved the sinking of a yacht in Brighton in 2004.

Career criminal Gary Eaton had claimed the yacht owner's wife Mandy Fleming, 47, from Sheerness, Kent, had offered him money to kill her husband, Adam.

But the judge said this testimony was "false and highly dangerous" - meaning Eaton's evidence to police has not yet led to any convictions except his own.

'Blatant untruthfulness'

The evidence of Gary Eaton, who had been one of Scotland Yard's most important supergrasses, was also heavily relied on in the Daniel Morgan axe murder trial, which collapsed earlier this year.

The Double Dragon yacht sank in Brighton marina in 2004 after holes were drilled in the hull following the Flemings' acrimonious separation.

Eaton had claimed Mandy Fleming offered him money to have her husband killed but Judge Richard Hone ridiculed his evidence in the Old Bailey case.

Judge Hone described the evidence of 53-year-old Eaton as "not just unreliable" but "false and highly dangerous".

"Gary Eaton is a person who is capable of inventing detailed accounts of events which never happened and shows either blatant untruthfulness or alternatively is a component of his personality disorder typified by folie de grandeur and self aggrandisement," Judge Hone said.

In October 2008 Eaton pleaded guilty to 20 offences, with 32 taken into consideration.

They included conspiracy to murder, bribing police officers, blackmail, possessing firearms, robberies, burglaries and conspiracy to supply cocaine.

His sentence of 27 years was reduced to three years because of information provided to the police.

But Judge Hone said on Monday there was a serious danger in a case where the only evidence of the conspiracy to murder came from Eaton himself.

He there was evidence of "fabrication and fantasy" and he referred to Eaton's psychiatric history, where a series of lies had led to a diagnosis of personality disorder being made.

"In short, Gary Eaton's propensity to lie is pathological and can be extremely persuasive, " he said, referring to a psychiatrist who wrote that Eaton was depressed following the death of his mother, when in fact she was alive and well.

Fleming could still be jailed after admitting recklessly endangering her husband's life by damaging the yacht. She was remanded on bail to be sentenced on 6 October.

Fleming's former boyfriend, David Brown, 50, of Sheerness, Kent, and Bradley Hanson, 27, of Littlehampton, West Sussex, were cleared of conspiracy to murder.

David Camp, 67, from Gosport, Hampshire, was cleared of selling a Browning 9mm handgun to another man said to have been involved in the alleged plot.

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