Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 18:32 UK

Three convicted of petrol murder

Jonathan Clarke, Jimi-Lee Stewart and Maria Chandler
Clarke, Stewart and Chandler will be sentenced on 26 June

Three people who tied up a student, doused him in petrol and set him on fire have been convicted of his murder.

Simon Everitt's body was found near his home town of Great Yarmouth three weeks after he vanished in June 2008.

Jimi-Lee Stewart, 25, Maria Chandler, 40, both of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and Jonathan Clarke, 20, from Telford in Shropshire had pleaded not guilty.

The trial at Norwich Crown Court heard the victim had been beaten and had petrol poured down his throat.

Sentencing will take place on 26 June.

The verdicts were returned after the judge said he would accept a majority verdict.

Simon Everitt's stepmother, Sue Everitt: "It's evil, Simon didn't deserve it"

Clarke, of Elizabeth Way, Telford, was 19 at the time he murdered the student.

His sister Christina told jurors he said he had tricked Mr Everitt into going with him to the scene of the attack.

During the trial jurors were played a scene from the British horror film Severance in which a character was shown tied to a tree.

In the movie a man is shown throwing petrol over and setting light to his victim.

Prosecutors claimed the student, who was originally from Newcastle, suffered a fate inspired by that scene.

The motive for the killing was said to be the victim's relationship with 19-year-old Fiona Statham.

'Assaulted and kidnapped'

Both Clarke and Stewart, of Nelson Road in Great Yarmouth, had been involved with Ms Statham.

Meanwhile Chandler, of Lancaster Road, was accused of being involved because she disliked the way Mr Everitt treated his girlfriend.

Simon Everitt
Simon Everitt's body was found three weeks after he went missing

The three defendants assaulted and kidnapped the engineering student, driving him to woodland in Mautby, Norfolk.

He was then "interrogated" by Stewart who believed his victim had slept with Ms Statham.

Stewart said he poured petrol all over the 17-year-old including down his throat, but told the court he was "shocked" when Clarke lit a match and set fire to their captive.

Hours later, he said, the three returned to Mautby where the body was buried in a ditch.

Ms Statham had reported the murder victim missing and his body was found on 28 June, 2008.

It took investigators a week to identify the remains.

'Human cruelty'

Simon's father Vince was too ill to attend court, but his step-mother Susan Everitt was there to hear the verdicts.

A family statement said: "Simon did nothing wrong apart from love the wrong girl."

Det Ch Insp Steve Strong of Norfolk Police said: "Without doubt it is one of the most horrific murders Norfolk Constabulary has ever been faced with.

"This was not the result of impulsive behaviour, but a planned abduction and execution in the most awful manner.

"Of course I am very pleased that we have had a very successful outcome but nobody wants to have to deal with the worst cases of human cruelty which this case has identified."

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