England

Sian Blake: Partner held in Ghana over EastEnders actress's murder

Arthur Simpson-Kent Image copyright BBC pictures
Image caption Arthur Simpson-Kent was arrested hidden amongst some rocks along the coast of Ghana

The partner of a former EastEnders actress who was murdered alongside her two young sons has been arrested in Ghana.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, was detained earlier, two days after the Ghanaian police began their hunt for him.

The bodies of Sian Blake, 43, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, were discovered in the garden of their London home on Tuesday.

The family had been reported missing on 16 December.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Sian Blake played Frankie Pierre in the BBC One soap between 1996 and 1997

BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead, who is in Ghana, said Mr Simpson-Kent was arrested in a coastal area popular with tourists and had been cutting a coconut when armed police surrounded him.

"Around 10 police officers went down to the beach where he was spotted hiding amongst some rocks and the police, who were all armed, called out to him," he said.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Alastair Leithead reports from the "remote cove" where Arthur Simpson-Kent was found

"He gave himself up and they found that he had a knife on him, but he didn't use it in a threatening way.

"He was then taken to a nearby village where police thanked the people who had informed them he was in this area."

Mr Leithead said the arrest involved Met and Ghanaian Police as well as officers from Interpol.

Mr Simpson-Kent had been spotted by a fisherman swimming in a remote cove, but it was a cafe owner who raised the alarm after recognising the image circulating of him on social media.

Many in the area had also celebrated the New Year with him, before discovering he was wanted by police.

Image copyright Blake Family
Image caption Zachary, eight, and four year old Amon were last seen on 13 December with their mother
Image caption Sian Blake played Frankie Pierre in EastEnders in 1996 and 1997

The Met Police said it had been "made aware of an arrest in Ghana" and was "working alongside the Ghanaian authorities but is not in a position to discuss further at this time".

Mr Simpson-Kent, the children's father, arrived in Ghana on 19 December, with the country's police force becoming involved in the hunt for him on Thursday.

Ghanaian Police had initially been sent to the Cape Coast in the south of the country - where the extended Simpson family is from - as well as to other parts of the Atlantic shoreline.

Ms Blake and the couple's sons had not been seen at their south-east London home since 13 December and a missing persons inquiry launched on 16 December, after the NSPCC had raised concerns about their welfare.


Timeline

  • 13 December: Sian Blake is last seen in Waltham Forest, east London, with her sons Zachary, eight, and Amon, four.
  • 16 December: Police visit her home in Erith and speak to Mr Simpson-Kent. This is the last time he is seen.
  • 3 January: Miss Blake's car is found in Bethnal Green, east London
  • 5 January: Bodies found at her home in Erith, south east London
  • 6 January: Police announce Mr Simpson-Kent is thought to have travelled to Ghana
  • 8 January: Sian Blake and her two sons are confirmed dead

The Met Police spoke to Mr Simpson-Kent on 16 December, but that was the last time he was seen.

A subsequent search of the family home in Erith, south east London, on 5 January uncovered three bodies in the garden.

The actress and her two sons had died from neck and head injuries, post-mortem tests revealed.

Ms Blake's sister Ava Blake spoke last week about how she believed the actress had wanted to leave her boyfriend.

She said: "It's my nephews more than anything. My brother is angry. My cousins are angry.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ava (left) and Pansy Blake are the sister and mother of murdered actress Sian Blake
Image copyright Family picture
Image caption Ms Blake had motor neurone disease and her family said her relationship with Mr Simpson-Kent had deteriorated

"They are angry about Sian, but the boys have devastated us. We have lost a generation. We can never replace them."

She said her sister had been "a lot more quiet" over the past year and had asked to move back home.

"In our opinion the relationship had already come to an end but she hadn't quite made that break or that decision to leave Arthur," she said.

Ms Blake, who had motor neurone disease, had played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997.

The Met has been criticised over delays in its investigation and is being investigated by the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission.


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