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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Killed by greed and envy
By Chris Summers
BBC News

The killing of lap dancer Adelle Hamilton is a modern-day fable of inner-city life, but the motives - greed and envy - were as old as mankind.

Adelle Hamilton's life was snuffed out at the age of 18 by two men who had been hired by a neighbour and former friend to rob her.

Adelle Hamilton
The people who killed Adelle thought she had something that they wanted. They thought they had a right to take it
Michael Hamilton

They were after money which they believed Adelle had been saving from her lap dancing job.

She was in her last week at the Spearmint Rhino nightclub in Colnbrook, near Heathrow airport, and planned to move to Cornwall with her boyfriend and start a business.

But Crystal Whilby, 20, who lived in the same tower block in Forest Hill, south London and had been a friend, was jealous of Adelle's wealth, figure and looks.

Whilby, who had two young children, and her boyfriend Calvin Berry hired two Jamaican friends to ambush Adelle as she returned home on the night of 12 July 2001 because they believed she had thousands of pounds stashed in her flat.

Queen's evidence

Orlando Francis, 25, and Christopher Howell, 30, bound and gagged her, leading to her death by suffocation.

The two Jamaicans, who were later jailed for eight years, admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to rob and turned Queen's evidence.

At Whilby's trial in 2002, Francis and Howell testified against her and she was convicted of conspiracy to rob, but acquitted of manslaughter. She was jailed for six years.

Calvin Berry
Berry fled to America after the death, but was extradited last year

Berry, who was referred to at Whilby's trial as a "very dangerous man", had been deported to Jamaica as an illegal immigrant before his involvement became clear.

Berry, who had acted as a lookout during the raid and received part of Adelle's cash, was finally extradited last year and went on trial at the Old Bailey earlier this month.

On Friday he was found guilty of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob and jailed for 10 years.

Adelle's father, Michael Hamilton, faced Berry across the court on Friday and read out a victim impact statement.

He said: "The people who killed Adelle thought she had something that they wanted. They thought they had a right to take it. They wanted things in their lives that Adelle had in her life but they were not prepared to work for it."

Mr Hamilton added: "The killing of my daughter has hurt me to the core."

At her trial in 2002 the Recorder of London, Mr Justice Peter Beaumont, told Whilby: "Adelle Hamilton was your friend. You visited her in her home, you shared her hopes and her worries and you betrayed that friendship by getting two thugs to rob her."

Adelle got a minicab home from the lap dancing club and arrived around 2.45am that night.

As she unlocked the security grille over her seventh floor flat she was ambushed and bundled inside by Francis and Howell, who had been waiting in Whilby's flat.

They bound and gagged her with duct tape and ransacked her home taking cash, jewellery, binoculars, a DVD player and her mobile phone.

The pair left her gagged and tied to the bed.

Worried father

Her decomposed body was found by her father two weeks later after she failed to respond to numerous phone calls and text messages.

Francis, an illegal immigrant, said: "She [Crystal Whilby] said there was a large sum of money at the house. She needed someone to take the money.

"The instruction was to tie her up and take the cash."

He told the jury Whilby rang him four days later and said she had not seen Hamilton leave the flat.

But he said he later met up with Howell and Whilby and divided up 18,000 in cash which had been found in the flat.

Francis admitted he was high on crack at the time of the robbery and said he spent his part of the proceeds on drugs.

The fingerprints of Francis, Howell and Whilby were all found in Adelle's flat.

But Whilby explained the presence of hers by saying she often cleaned for Adelle.

'Energy and spark'

During the trial Jeremy Benson QC, prosecuting, asked the defendant: "Weren't you envious of Adelle? She wore nice clothes, she looked good, she had a lot of possessions."

Whilby replied: "No, not really. I was proud of her."

Whilby's counsel, Richard Wormald, said his client's mother was an alcoholic who had psychological problems and had been convicted of arson when she was five years old.

At the time of Whilby's conviction, Adelle's mother, Michelle Hamilton, told the BBC News Website justice had not been done and added: "I feel nothing for Crystal Whilby, but I feel for her children, they have no chance.

"They will end up just like her. It's like a circle."

A spokeswoman for Spearmint Rhino, which offered a 10,000 reward for evidence leading to convictions, said at the time: "We are very sad and feel for Adelle's family and friends."

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