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Sian Blake murder: EastEnders actress 'planned to leave partner who killed her'

Zachary, Sian as Frankie in EastEnders and Amon Image copyright Met Police and BBC
Image caption Zachary, Sian (pictured in EastEnders) and Amon were found dead at their London home

A former EastEnders actress and her two sons were murdered by her partner as she planned to leave with the children, a court has heard.

Sian Blake, 43, Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon were found buried in the garden of their London home on 5 January.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, has pleaded guilty to the killings and is being sentenced at the Old Bailey.

The court heard he killed them in December and later fled to Ghana.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Arthur Simpson-Kent was first arrested on a beach in Ghana by local police

The cannabis dealer faces whole life sentences for killing Ms Blake, who had motor neurone disease, and their children.

The court heard that Ms Blake's illness and her "unhealthy" relationship led her to consider selling their home and moving back in with her family.

She had spoken to her mother, Lindell Blake, about the four of them moving in with her but her mother said Simpson Kent could not come, which Ms Blake "appeared to accept".

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said: "The evidence suggests, and this much is not disputed, that, on the night of December 14, 2015, the defendant killed each of them in turn with heavy, deliberate, repeated blows with a blunt instrument not since recovered, and then by cutting and stabbing them with a bladed weapon in a way that ensured their deaths.

Image copyright Blake family
Image caption The couple's sons Zachary (in orange) and Amon, were also killed

"He then covered his crimes by moving, wrapping and burying each of them, cleaning and partially painting his home."

In the days following her death, family tried to contact Ms Blake and received texts from her mobile phone saying she had gone away, the court was told.

Mr Heywood said: "The defendant, using her [Ms Blake's] phone, was sending the messages."

He said that, as police launched a missing persons investigation into Ms Blake and her children, Simpson-Kent booked a flight from Glasgow to Accra.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Simpson-Kent was arrested in the coastal village of Butre, Ghana

In a message to a friend, he said: "I can't go into details about what I have done but I only have 2 choices. Go to Ghana one way or Die (sic)."

He was later tracked down by police and arrested on a beach in his native Ghana, before being extradited back to the UK.

When interviewed by detectives in Accra, he claimed there had been a murder-suicide pact between him and Ms Blake because of her illness - but nothing was written down.

Ms Blake played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997.

Jim Sturman QC, acting for Simpson-Kent, told the court the couple had previously discussed "ending it all" because of her illness.

But he added: "There was no agreement to kill in this way and it was against this backdrop that the guilty pleas were entered.

"It is not suggested that the killings were a mercy killing. It is our case that Simpson-Kent snapped under the pressure of the disease, the way it was killing Sian and the inevitability of it all."

He said the defendant was "not a man prone to violence", adding: "What happened on that night was a truly extraordinary and out-of-character murder."

The sentencing hearing continues.

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