Man to be sentenced for murder of EastEnders actress and two children
The partner of EastEnders actress Sian Blake could be facing a whole life sentence when he is sentenced for murdering her and their two children.
Hairdresser Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, pleaded guilty to killing his 43-year-old girlfriend and their sons Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon between December 12 last year and January 3.
The family vanished on December 13 and their bodies were found buried in the garden of their home in Erith, Kent, on January 5.
The following month, Simpson-Kent was arrested at Heathrow Airport after agreeing to his extradition from Ghana.
In June, Simpson-Kent pleaded guilty to their murders when he appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from top security Belmarsh prison.
Ms Blake played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997. She was suffering from motor neurone disease before she died.
The actress and her children were last seen on December 13 2015, when they visited her family in Leyton.
The last time she was known to be alive was on the afternoon of December 14, when she made a telephone call to an acquaintance.
On December 16, her sister received a text from the victim's phone saying she and the children needed to get away for a while.
But detectives believe it was sent by Simpson-Kent and that he had already murdered his family.
After a family member raised concerns with the NSPCC, police officers went to the family home and spoke to Simpson-Kent.
At first, he refused to co-operate but then allowed them in and said the family had gone to visit a friend in Cambridge.
Later that day, a missing persons' investigation was launched - which is now subject to an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
It was taken over by murder squad officers on January 3 as concern for the family's welfare deepened.
They searched their home using specially trained sniffer dogs which led officers to a secluded area of the back garden, Scotland Yard said.
It was there that the remains of Ms Blake and her children were uncovered despite "significant effort" to conceal them.
A post-mortem examination found they died from head and neck injuries.
Police then launched a manhunt for Simpson-Kent, who had fled to Ghana via Glasgow and Amsterdam on December 18 after spending a night with a friend in Camden and taking £700 from his partner's bank account.
Detectives followed him to Ghana where he was arrested on January 9 and extradited in February.
Following his guilty pleas, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn said: "Arthur Simpson-Kent has never given a reason as to why he killed Sian, Zachary and Amon in the way that he did.
"Sian's close-knit family are devastated by the loss of their much loved sister, daughter and cousin. The deaths of Zachary and Amon have compounded their grief and they have lost two entire generations of their family to a violent and completely senseless act of murder at the hands of Simpson-Kent.
"Our efforts to bring Simpson-Kent back to the UK to face justice were greatly expedited by the help we received from the Ghanaian authorities and the National Crime Agency, who alongside us, ensured Simpson-Kent was arrested as soon as possible and returned to the UK.
"We now await the sentence date of the 4 October where I hope the family can get some form of closure for what has been, and continues to be, an incredibly difficult time for them."
The sentencing at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Singh is scheduled to go on for up to three days.