Sussex

Paul Jefferies case: Teenager found guilty of murder

Ben Bamford Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Ben Bamford had met his victim through the gay dating app Grindr when he was 15, the court heard

A teenager has been found guilty of the murder of a government tax advisor he met via the gay dating app, Grindr.

Paul Jefferies, 52, was found stabbed to death in his blood-splattered home in East Sussex in February.

Ben Bamford, 18, from South Street, Crowborough, went to Mr Jefferies' home to have sex with him and steal money to pay drug debts of about £400, Lewes Crown Court heard.

He is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Mr Jefferies' body was found in the kitchen of his house in Coggins Mill Lane, Mayfield, on 25 February, two days after he died.

He had suffered more than 40 injuries, including a slashed throat and partially severed thumb.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Paul Jefferies was found naked with a tea towel over his head on his blood-covered kitchen floor

Bamford had denied murder, claiming he was protecting himself from Mr Jefferies after he had "come on to him".

During his defence, he said he "got on top of me" and carried on having sex with him after telling him to stop.

Bamford, who was then 17, said he tried to leave the house but found the door locked and a scuffle ensued.

He stabbed Mr Jefferies using three knives and candlesticks, inflicting more than 40 injuries, including a slash to his throat.

Bamford had met Mr Jefferies via Grindr about two years before the killing, when he was aged 15, and the pair resumed contact last December following a break.

Bamford was "desperate" for money to settle drugs debts and was being pressurised by a dealer, receiving texts from him on the day of Mr Jefferies murder.

Signs of a struggle

He said had had hoped Mr Jefferies would give him money as he had done so in the past.

Sussex Police were called to the Grade II-listed cottage in Mayfield on 25 February following a call from an employer of Mr Jefferies who was concerned for his welfare.

They found his body covered with a towel in the kitchen.

He had significant head and neck injuries and there were signs of a struggle throughout the property but no forced entry.

Mr Jefferies had been killed two days before, and Bamford had locked the door of the cottage and fled in Mr Jefferies' car.

He headed to Eastbourne District General Hospital after meeting up with two friends where he was treated for a serious injury to his hand.

He told hospital staff he had self-harmed.

He was later transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital, in East Grinstead, for surgery, where a friend took a photo of him lying in a hospital bed, smirking and flicking his middle finger up at the camera.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Bamford was photographed lying in a hospital bed, smirking and flicking his middle finger up at the camera

Bamford later told his mother: "I think I've killed somebody."

He handed himself him into Eastbourne police station on 27 February with his mother, stating that he been involved in a fight at an address in Mayfield.

Following the verdict Det Ch Insp Tanya Jones, who led the investigation, said: "This was a horrific attack by a teenage boy who preyed on his victim with the aim of exploiting him for money.

"The level of violence he inflicted on Paul Jefferies was extreme and then he fled the scene in his victim's car. He showed no remorse, smirking for a selfie photo just hours later."

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