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Sian Blake: EastEnders actress murder suspect held in Accra

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Media captionArthur Simpson-Kent appeared to be in deep thought when he was shown to the media in Accra, Sammy Darko reports

The partner of a former EastEnders actress found murdered with her two young sons is being held in police custody in Ghana's capital city Accra.

A handcuffed Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, shook his head and repeatedly said "No" as he was questioned by journalists.

The bodies of his partner Sian Blake and two sons were found buried in the garden of their London home on Tuesday.

British police said proceedings to extradite him to the UK would begin soon, and denied they had acted slowly.

Ghanaian police said Mr Simpson-Kent, a British national, would not be deported from the country until British officials requested extradition.

BBC reporter Sammy Darko said he tried to ask Mr Simpson-Kent why he had come to Ghana as he was shown to the waiting media at an Accra police station.

"I tried to engage him whilst he was sitting there before the news conference, and he was only nodding to anything I said," he said.

"It appeared that the police had cautioned him not to talk to the media. He was just nodding and saying, 'No, no no'."

Image copyright BBC NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Image caption Mr Simpson-Kent was shown to the waiting media before a police news conference in the Ghanaian capital Accra
Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Sian Blake played Frankie Pierre in the BBC One soap between 1996 and 1997

At a joint police news conference with Ghanaian police, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn of the Metropolitan Police said extradition proceedings would begin soon, but it was "not as simple as putting him on an aeroplane and taking him back".

Under Ghanaian law, Mr Simpson-Kent can be held for 48 hours before he must be released or appear before a court, meaning he is likely to appear before a judge on Monday.

He was arrested on Saturday in Busua, a south-west coastal resort, after a fisherman spotted him swimming in a remote cove.

A British woman who owns a local cafe then raised the alarm after recognising him from a picture circulating on social media.

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Media captionThe BBC's Alastair Leithead reports from the "remote cove" where Arthur Simpson-Kent was found

BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead, who is in Ghana, said about 10 armed police officers spotted him hiding among some rocks and surrounded him as he was cutting a coconut.

Our correspondent said he gave himself up and police found that he had a knife on him, but he did not use it in a threatening way.

The BBC understands he had previously visited his grandmother's house in Cape Coast in the south of the country - where the extended Simpson family is from.

His grandmother is believed to have assisted police with his whereabouts.

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

Ms Blake and the couple's sons were last seen on 13 December, and a missing persons inquiry was launched on 16 December. The Met Police spoke to Mr Simpson-Kent that day, but that was the last time he was seen.

Ghanaian Police say Mr Simpson-Kent, who is the children's father, arrived in Ghana on 19 December.

The country's police force became involved in the hunt for him on 7 January, two days after the bodies of Ms Blake and her sons were found in the garden of their Erith home.

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


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
  • 9 January: Mr Simpson-Kent arrested in Busua, in western Ghana. British police say he will be extradited to the UK

Ms Blake's sister Ava Blake said the family had been devastated by the deaths.

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

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

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.

DCI Gwyn said he was satisfied "there was nothing we or the Ghanaians could have done any quicker", and thanked local police for their help.

"The reason we are here is for Sian's family and the boys and we are here to see justice for them," he said.

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