Arthur Simpson-Kent gets a whole life tariff for murder of his family

Arthur Simpson-Kent gets a whole life tariff for murder of his family

Photo from the BBC


We covered the case of Arthur Simpson-Kent when he pleaded guilty in June 2016 to the murder of his partner Sian Blake, and their two children Zachary (aged 8) and Amon (aged 4).

This got more attention that it perhaps otherwise would have done as Ms Blake was a former Eastenders actress.

On 5th October 2016, Mr Simpson-Kent was sentenced to a whole life tariff.



As stated, Mr Simpson-Kent had been in relationship with Ms Blake for some time, and they had two children.

Fearing that Ms Blake would leave him, and take their children, it seems that Mr Simpson-Kent decided that the only way to deal with this was to kill them.

He was later to tell a psychiatrist ““I was losing hope. I find it very difficult to explain what I was thinking. In the week before the killings I believe there was something mentally wrong with me. I was depressed and angry at the situation. I had tried so hard and the children were keeping me going. My composure was breaking down, the ability to bottle my feelings up was going. I had not made a plan of what to do or when to do it“.

He hit them on the head, and then stabbed all three of them in the neck or throat, before buying them in the garden.

On 15th December 2015, Ms Blake was reported missing and the police spoke to Mr Simpson-Kent on the 16th.

At that stage, presumably, there was no evidence to suggest that even if an offence had been committed, then it was committed by him, and no action was taken. It seems that Mr Simpson-Kent had used her phone to text her family in an effort to convince them that she was still alive.

The matter became a murder investigation on 5th January 2016 when their house was searched and the bodies of Mr Simpson-Kent’s three victims were found in the garden.

Meanwhile, he had left the UK for Ghana on 19th December. Before going, he sent a message to a friend saying “I can’t go into details about what I have done but I only have 2 choices. Go to Ghana one way or Die“.

He was arrested there on 9th January this year. Waiving his legal right to a full extradition hearing, Mr Simpson-Kent agreed to return to the UK voluntarily.

This happened the next month, and he was arrested at the airport, pleading guilt to all three murders in June. The matter was adjourned for sentence.



We had estimated that Mr Simpson-Kent would get a tariff in the region of 28-30 years. Clearly we got that wrong.

There was the mandatory life sentence. The Sentencing Remarks have been published (which should happen much more often than it does as a matter of routine) which help to explain why.

The Judge sets out the facts, before concluding that it was a case where there was a ‘a substantial degree of premeditation or planning‘ which, as there were three victims, puts it in the whole life category.

On top of that, there were aggravating features – all were vulnerable, there was concealment of the bodies, and an attempt to throw the police off the scent.

In light of that, the Judge concluded that it was definitely a case for a whole life tariff.


Will there be an appeal?

Undoubtedly. Mr Simpson-Kent has absolutely nothing to lose. The Judge is an extremely experienced one, who oversaw the case, and we doubt that the Court of Appeal would interfere with the sentence.

Having said that, it would not appear, to us, to be an obvious case for a whole life tariff, and other Judges may well have passed a determinate tariff and not be appealed by the Attorney-General.

It’s all pretty academic, as is often the case. Mr Simpson-Kent is 49, so a tariff of 30 years would keep him in custody in theory until he was aged 79 at the earliest (in practice almost nobody ever gets out ‘on tariff’) – pretty much akin to a whole life tariff.


Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.