Teen found guilty of murdering civil servant after meeting via gay dating app Grindr
Published 22/11/2016 | 12:30
A teenager has been found guilty of murdering a high-ranking civil servant at his country cottage after they met via the gay dating app Grindr.
Ben Bamford, 18, inflicted more than 40 injuries during a "sustained attack" on senior HM Revenue and Customs official Paul Jefferies, 52, including slashing his throat.
Mr Jefferies, who reportedly advised ex-chancellor George Osborne's Treasury team, was found naked with a tea towel over his head on his blood-covered kitchen floor in Coggins Mill Lane, Mayfield, East Sussex.
Lewes Crown Court heard how Bamford had sought to rob Mr Jefferies on February 23 after Bamford had built up drugs debts of around £400 which he was being pressurised to repay.
Bamford, of South Street, Crowborough, denied murder, claiming he was protecting himself from Mr Jefferies after he had "come on to him" but jurors convicted him after deliberating for three hours.
Bamford stood emotionless flanked by two dock officers as the verdict was announced by the jury foreman.
His mother Annmarie Bamford broke down in tears sat next to her husband Richard as judge Mr Justice Spencer adjourned sentencing until Wednesday.
The judge said "a little time for reflection" was needed to consider the sentence, partly due to the fact Bamford was just 17 when he murdered Mr Jefferies.
Mr Jefferies, described by colleagues as "diligent, personable but very private", moved to Sussex from London about five years before his death following the breakdown of a relationship.
Bamford met Mr Jefferies via Grindr some two years before the killing when he was aged 15, and resumed contact in December 2015 following a break.
Unknown to Mr Jefferies, by the time they met again Bamford was "desperate" for money to settle drugs debts and was being pressurised by a dealer called Glen.
Text exchanges between Bamford and Glen were read in court. One, which was sent on the day of the killing, read: "I'm not happy. On my boy's life, I will see you today."
In another text exchange, Glen accused Bamford of "treating me like a mug". Bamford replied: "I will get it to you. Don't worry."
During his defence, Bamford told the court he had met Mr Jefferies in the hope he would give him money, as he had done so in the past.
Bamford claimed he stabbed Mr Jefferies to protect himself after he "got on top of me" and carried on having sex with him after telling him to stop.
After leaving Mr Jefferies for dead on the kitchen floor at his Grade II-listed cottage, Bamford took his Audi TT car and picked up a friend en route to Eastbourne District General Hospital.
Jurors were shown a selfie picture of Bamford flicking his middle finger while lying on his hospital bed after he was admitted claiming he had self-harmed to avoid police involvement.
Nurse Mrs Bamford told the court how she was left "dumb-founded" after he told her he had killed someone as he recuperated at home following an operation for his injuries.
Mrs Bamford told jurors: "I kept saying that I need to know what's happening. And then he shouted, 'I think I've killed somebody'.
"I had to ask him again because he was being very tearful and angry. I asked him again in disbelief - 'What?'.
"And he said again, 'I think I've killed somebody'. He then went on to his bed and laid there face down very upset and very tearful."
Shocked at his claims, Mrs Bamford went online to find anything to support what he was saying - and she found a report of a suspicious death in Mayfield.
"I said to Ben, 'We need to go to the police' and he said, 'Yes, I know'," said Mrs Bamford.