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‘Warped and angry’ killer cut girlfriend’s throat in two-day violence spree

A “warped and angry” killer has been found guilty of cutting the throats of his girlfriend and an associate weeks after being released from jail.

Lee Peacock, 50, was out to “punish” his partner Sharon Pickles, 46, and Clinton Ashmore, 59, during a two-day violent spree through Westminster in August 2021, the Old Bailey heard.

The self-confessed burglar and thief turned the 4cm-long knife on himself when police tracked him down to a houseboat on the Grand Union Canal after a five-day manhunt.

Peacock, who had only been released from prison on 4 June 2021 admitted to killing the pair but denied it was murder.

Lee Peacock set out to “punish” his partner, a court heard (PA)
Lee Peacock set out to “punish” his partner, a court heard (PA)

He claimed the death of his “other half” was a “pure accident” and said that Mr Ashmore “went mental” and punched him in the head after he confessed to killing Ms Pickles.

A jury retired at the Old Bailey on Tuesday and deliberated for two hours and 20 minutes to find Peacock guilty of the double murder.

Mr Justice Murray adjourned sentencing until Wednesday morning.

The family of Sharon Pickles have released a statement. This read: “As a family, it’s been an incredibly difficult time for us losing our loved one in this way, but we finally have justice for our beloved daughter, sister and mother Sharon.

“Our hearts are broken and she will be missed dearly. We would like to say thank you to the police, prosecution and witness services for supporting us during this time and the dignity and respect they have shown Sharon.”

A statement from Clinton Ashmore’s family read: “Clint was a pure and beautiful soul. His kindness, wit, humour and gentleness were what stood out most about him but more than anything, he was loved.

“Clint touched so many lives in so many ways. He shone brightly in this world but his light was cruelly put out by someone who gave no thought or care to the impact of his actions. The world has lost one of the good ones but our family and his loved ones have lost the best.”

During the trial, prosecutor Edward Brown KC had described Peacock’s actions as “cold-blooded” and “determined”.

On the evening of 19 August 2021, Peacock’s father alerted police that his son had visited him and confessed to being a killer.

Jurors heard he had turned up at the property with Ms Pickles’s kitten in his rucksack.

Officers went to Ms Pickles’s home in Marylebone and found her body wrapped up and hidden under a bed, with a signed confession nearby.

In the note, Peacock wrote that Ms Pickles was “meant to live” and he had sworn “revenge” against those who took advantage while he was in jail.

Lee Peacock was filmed at a railway station as part of a CCTV appeal (Metropolitan Police)
Lee Peacock was filmed at a railway station as part of a CCTV appeal (Metropolitan Police)

Jurors viewed CCTV images of the last sighting of Ms Pickles outside her flat and footage of Peacock coming and going on a bicycle.

Later on 19 August, the defendant was captured on CCTV walking with Mr Ashmore towards his Westminster flat, then leaving alone 15 minutes later.

Two hours later, Mr Ashmore was discovered dead by friends, having suffered multiple cutting injuries. Both victims died from similar knife wounds to the neck.

Peacock and the kitten were eventually located on 25 August on a houseboat moored on the Grand Union Canal in central London.

When officers arrived, Peacock tried to cut his own neck before being restrained.

More notes confessing to the murders and explaining the reasons for them were found in his pocket and the clothes he was wearing were seized.

After being treated in hospital, Peacock gave a “chilling” account, saying he had used the same knife in both killings and the attempt on his own life.

He said he had argued with Ms Pickles about her seeing someone while he was in prison and he lashed out with the knife after Ms Pickles laughed at his plan to kill whoever she had been with. Peacock also wanted to kill others who he said had exploited Ms Pickles.

Giving evidence in his trial, Peacock insisted he was “not a monster” and he never intended to harm either of his victims.

But Mr Brown told him: “You committed two terrible murders with your warped and angry mind, that’s the reality and you confessed to two terrible murders, didn’t you?

“You were determined to punish Sharon Pickles and you were determined to punish Clinton Ashmore.

“You intended nothing less than to kill each of them, didn’t you?”

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Jolley said: “Lee Peacock had recently been released from prison and was determined to blame others for his partner, Sharon, having moved on with her life while he was incarcerated. He was ruthless, murderous and had decided he was going to kill people.”

He added: “Peacock is a violent and murderous individual who has taken the lives of two people for no better reason than satisfying his own craving for violence.

“His not guilty plea meant that the families of the victims had to endure the anguish of hearing the horrific details of his offences in court. My thoughts are with them all today.”