Man found guilty of murdering lodger and scattering body parts along Bournemouth seafront

22 May 2024, 12:43 | Updated: 22 May 2024, 14:58

A 49-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering his lodger and then dropping packages of his dismembered limbs along Bournemouth seafront.

Benjamin Atkins was convicted by a jury at Winchester Crown Court of the murder of Simon Shotton, 48, whose legs were found in packages on the Manor Steps Zig Zag footpath in the Boscombe area of the Dorset seaside resort in August 2023.

Atkins' girlfriend, 39-year-old Debbie Pereira, was acquitted of murder but convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Prosecutors said the case was "truly disturbing" which "shocked the residents of Bournemouth and its surrounding towns".

Atkins had previously admitted perverting the course of justice and both defendants had admitted preventing the burial of a corpse.

In court, Atkins admitted to killing Mr Shotton at the couple's home and dismembering his body, but said he had acted out of self-defence.

He told the court Mr Shotton had been staying for a short period in their house and providing them with drugs in lieu of rent.

Atkins said the lethal argument had started over the victim demanding payment of a debt.

The court heard how after killing Mr Shotton, Atkins and Pereira sold the victim's mobile phone in a Cash Creators shop in Boscombe which police used to track down the pair.

Atkins then went on to cut up Mr Shotton's body using a hacksaw in the couple's garden under a makeshift tent before burning the victim's head on a fire.

'I'd do it again and again and again'

Paul Cavin KC, prosecuting, told the court Atkins was recorded after his arrest by a secret microphone in a prison van responding to a question by Pereira on whether he had any regrets by saying: "I'll look 'em straight in the eye and say, 'Yeah. I'd do it again and again and again. If you let me go today, I'd find another one and do it again'."

Describing his actions to dismember the body, Atkins said in court: "I won't deny it, I used copious amounts of various drugs.

"I wouldn't have done that if I wasn't under the influence, I wouldn't have cut him up, I was scared, I was traumatised, I was panicked, I was under extreme stress as well as under the influence.

"What I done was truly awful, it's horrendous what I have done and I deserve to be punished for what I have done.

"I am sorry to his family, I am sorry to my family. It's difficult for me to be remorseful to a man who was trying to kill me in my own house."

'Jaw-dropping evidence'

The judge Mrs Justice Stacey adjourned the case for sentencing to take place on 26 July and remanded both defendants in custody until then.

Thanking the jury, she told them: "We gave you a terrible job and you have risen to the challenge absolutely magnificently.

"You had to sit through some of the most jaw-dropping evidence that anyone could hear, to hear of Mr Shotton's death and what happened to his body afterwards and the grim scientific details of how a body decomposes."