Ben Bamford has been jailed for at least 16-years. In sentencing Bamford, Mr Justice Spencer said he caused “merciless carnage” by using at least three knives to inflict more than 40 stab wounds on senior HM Revenue and Customs official Paul Jefferies, including slashing his throat.
Download the Judge’s sentencing remarks.
Teenager Ben Bamford has been found guilty of the murder of Paul Jefferies at his home in Mayfield in February this year.
The court heard that Mr Jefferies, 52, lived alone in his Mayfield cottage having moved to Sussex in 2010. He worked in London as a senior civil servant for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) advising the government on tax policy. He was described as a private but diligent and hard working person.
On 25th February police went to a home in Coggins Mill Lane, Mayfield, at 6.15pm after receiving a call from an employer expressing concern for the welfare of a member of their staff who lived there. They found the body of Paul Jefferies in the kitchen of his cottage. 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 in a prolonged brutal attack two days before on Tuesday 23rd February and the suspect had locked the door of the cottage and fled. Mr Jefferies’ car keys and grey Audi TT from his driveway were missing.
As detectives from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team launched a murder investigation, a 17-year-old boy handed himself into Eastbourne police station on Saturday 27th February with his mother stating that he been involved in a fight at an address in Mayfield. The boy Ben Bamford was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken into custody. He was charged with murder on 1st March.
Investigations carried out by detectives established that Bamford was a drug user and had a £400 drug debt, which he was being pressured to pay. Bamford told police he had met Mr Jefferies on the mobile gay dating app Grindr. They had arranged to meet on three occasions – the last being on 23rd February. Previously they had had oral sex.
When Bamford arranged to meet Mr Jefferies that fatal night, his mobile phone connected automatically to the internet router at Mr Jefferies home. The connection lasted from 9.34pm to 10.57pm by which time he had killed Mr Jefferies.
He said Mr Jefferies had sex with him but Bamford did not like it and told him to stop. When he tried to leave he found the door locked and a scuffle ensured and stabbed Mr Jefferies using three knives and candlesticks, inflicting more than 40 injuries, including slashing his throat.
A neighbour reported hearing the sounds of wheels spinning on the gravel as a car pulled off the shared driveway. This was Bamford fleeing the scene by stealing his victim’s Audi TT car and meeting up with two friends to help him get to hospital as he had suffered a serious injury to his hand during the fight.
He told staff there he had self-harmed but officers believed he caused them himself them during the attack.
He was transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead for surgery. Just a few hours later his friend took a selfie photo of Bamford lying in a hospital bed smirking and flicking his middle finger up at the camera.
During the trial jurors were shown a 360 degree image of the inside of the cottage with a blood soaked bed as well as blood marks down the stairs, in the lounge and kitchen.
Glass broken into 49 pieces was found on the double bed and a horizontal cut was seen on a pillow case on the bed. After the violent attack and having struck the fatal blow, Bamford left Mr Jefferies lying dead or dying on his kitchen floor.
He covered him with a towel and he took his car keys and the house keys. He locked a mortice lock on the door and then stole his victim’s Audi TT.
After receiving treatment at hospital for an injury to his hand and being discharged, Bamford rowed with his mother saying:
I think the man is dead. I stabbed him.
She then persuaded him to hand himself into the police. He admitted killing Mr Jefferies but denied murder claiming he was trying to protect himself from Mr Jefferies.
Bamford himself told the court he had met up with Mr Jefferies that night in the hope he would help him pay off his debt. Beforehand he had taken Valium and smoked cannabis.
Once there they went up to the bedroom they had sex but when Bamford told Mr Jefferies to stop he carried on until Bamford told him he needed the toilet.
Bamford went downstairs to get away but said he found the door locked. He knew that his clothes and his phone was upstairs and he would have to go back up there. So he took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed Mr Jefferies.
He denied plotting to attack him and said he had not properly known what he was doing at the time. He said he did not think about dialling 999.
A reflection by the Senior Investigating Officer
Detective Chief Inspector Tanya Jones, who led the investigation for Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, 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.
However the jury did not believe his story. Although this can never undo what he has done, I hope it will bring some justice for Paul’s family, friends and colleagues.
DCI Tanya Jones talks about investigating the death of Paul Jefferies:
A tribute from Paul’s employer
Adrian Cooper, deputy director of specialist personal tax at HMRC who worked with Mr Jefferies, said:
Paul was a highly valued colleague and friend. While he was a private and reserved person he was also a warm and humorous man, kind, thoughtful, professional and dedicated to public service.
He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all who worked with him.
Bamford will be sentenced tomorrow (Wednesday 22nd November).