The murder of Paul Jefferies
Following the evidence given to the court the jury has found 18-year-old Ben Bamford guilty of the murder of Paul Jefferies in Mayfield in February 2016.
Mr Jefferies, 52, lived alone in his Mayfield cottage having moving 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.
We believe that Bamford went to see Mr Jefferies with the intention of exploiting him for money to pay off his drugs debt that was now due. Through painstaking forensics of a gruesome crime scene we were able to piece together what happened during the horrific attack on Mr Jefferies.
What happened on 25 February 2016?
Police officers 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 covered with a towel 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 23 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 also missing.
As detectives from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team launched a murder investigation, a 17-year-old boy handed himself him into Eastbourne police station on Saturday 27 February with his mother, stating that he been involved in a fight at an address in Mayfield. The boy, Ben Bamford who is now 18 of South Street, Crowborough, was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken into custody.
Investigating the crime
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 23 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. Investigators found that the connection lasted from 9.34pm to 10.57pm by which time he had killed Mr Jefferies.
He claimed to police that Mr Jefferies had sex with him but he did not like it and told him to stop. He said that when he tried to leave he found the door locked and a scuffle ensued and he stabbed Mr Jefferies using three knives and candlesticks, inflicting more than 40 injuries, including a slash to his throat. A forensic examination found the weapons and a glass broken into 49 pieces on the double bed. A horizontal cut was also seen on a pillowcase on the bed.
On conducting house-to-house enquiries, a neighbour told police that they had heard the sound of wheels spinning on the gravel as a car pulled off the shared driveway.
Police established that this was Bamford fleeing from the scene after stealing his victim’s car, to meet 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 hospital staff he had self-harmed but we believe the injuries were caused by himself during the attack.
Just a few hours after the attack he was transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, for surgery. Investigations found that his friend took a photo of him lying in a hospital bed smirking and flicking his middle finger up at the camera.
Ben Bamford was charged with murder on 1 March and his trial started on 7 November at Lewes Crown Court.
During the two-week trial jurors were shown a 360 degree image of the inside of the cottage with a blood-soaked bed, as well as extensive blood stains down the stairs, in the lounge and kitchen.
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. He said that they went up to the bedroom where they had sex. However, he claimed when he told Mr Jefferies to stop he carried on, so he told him he needed the toilet. Bamford said he went downstairs to get away but found the door locked. He knew that his clothes and his phone were upstairs and he would have to go back up. 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 did not think about dialling 999.
After receiving hospital treatment for his injury and being discharged, Bamford rowed with his mother saying: “I think the man is dead. I stabbed him.”
She persuaded him to hand himself into police where he admitted killing Mr Jefferies but denied murder claiming he was trying to protect himself.
On 22 November a jury found him guilty of murder.
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 private and reserved 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."
A reflection from 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 photo just hours later.
Although this can never undo what he has done, I hope it will bring some justice for Paul’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Ben Bamford was sentenced to life imprisonment when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday (23 November). The judge ruled he will serve a minimum of 16 years before he can apply for parole.
Disclaimer: This is a story of how detectives investigated the crime. It is not intended as a court report. The material has been released with the knowledge of Paul Jefferies' family.