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Ex-Stephen Lawrence murder suspect fled UK while ‘wanted for £2.1million drug plot’

A former Stephen Lawrence murder suspect escaped to Spain hidden in the back of a car with an encrypted phone while wanted for a £2.1million drugs plot, a court has heard.

Jamie Acourt, 44, spent more than two years on the run in Barcelona where he claimed to have worked as a barman, personal trainer and odd job man.

Acourt, one of five suspects named over the 1993 racist killing of Stephen, 18, in Eltham, South London, was helped by his drug dealing cousin while on the run, a judge has found.

The details emerged during a proceeds of crime hearing at Kingston Crown Court on Thursday where he was ordered to pay £90,000 or face another year in jail.

Acourt appeared in the dock as a judge ruled he personally pocketed £500,000 from the plot.

He is currently serving a nine year sentence for plotting to traffic cannabis after finally being held in Spain in 2018.

Wearing a grey t-shirt, the clean shaven criminal claimed he first sofa surfed with friends in Barcelona before sharing a £3,000 a month apartment with two flatmates.

He got the property under a fake name after buying a false passport for around £1,000.

He said: “It was ID, obviously I was on the run so it was for if I got stopped.”

His cousin, convicted money launderer Jason Stuart, was arrested in the UK ten months after his escape in possession of 58,800 in Euros that had just been converted from sterling.

Stuart, previously convicted of drug dealing, also had an encrypted phone with a Spanish sim card, the court heard.

Details of a similar encrypted phone were found at Acourt’s home by police on packaging for a BlackBerry during a raid on the address in 2016, the court heard.

Judge Peter Lodder ruled that Stuart had planned to send the money to his fugitive cousin.

Acourt said he escaped through UK customs in the back of a car, adding: “I was concealed.”

He claimed he was only involved in the drug gang for a few weeks after a hernia operation meant he could no longer work as a tiler with his half brother Bradley.

But prosecutor Sarah Przybylska said he was lying, and was in fact a leading player in the gang.

She added police found a notebook in his Spanish flat which listed a number of valuable watches including Rolexes which he may have been investing in instead of banking his cash.

Judge Lodder told Acourt: “I find hidden assets of £90,000 in respect of which I make an order with a default of 12 months in prison. Thank you very much. You may go.”

Acourt was jailed after pleading guilty to the cannabis plot.

Brother Neil Acourt, also a former Stephen murder suspect, was jailed for drug dealing as part of the same conspiracy.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of the murder in 2012 and given life terms.

Another former suspect, Luke Knight, is still living near Eltham.

The Met said last year that it had no further lines of inquiry over Stephen’s killing.