Man loses challenge over sentence for murdering EastEnders actress and children

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The partner of former EastEnders star Sian Blake has lost a challenge against his "whole-life" jail sentence for murdering her and their two young children.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 50, failed to persuade Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other leading judges at the Court of Appeal in London that the term should be reduced.

He killed Ms Blake, 43, and their sons, Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon, after the actress, who was terminally-ill with motor neurone disease, planned to leave him and take the boys with her.

All three were repeatedly hit on the head before being stabbed in the neck or throat by Simpson-Kent, who painted over bloodstains to hide the brutal murders at their bungalow in Erith, south-east London, in December 2015.

He then buried them in the back garden and told relatives and the police they had gone to see friends before fleeing to his native Ghana.

Simpson-Kent, who admitted three counts of murder, was sentenced at the Old Bailey last October by a judge who said he had been left in "no doubt'' he should receive the most severe punishment available for his ''truly horrific'' crimes.

Lord Thomas, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice May upheld his decision at a hearing on Tuesday.

Lord Thomas, describing the murders of the three vulnerable victims as horrific and involving "extreme brutality", said the court was "entirely satisfied" that the sentencing judge was entitled to reach the conclusion that it was a case where "just punishment" required the imposition of a whole-life order.

The appeal judges rejected argument on the killer's behalf that a "very long finite" sentence in the region of 40 years would have been sufficient - and would have given him some hope of release once served.

In throwing out Simpson-Kent's challenge, Lord Thomas said that for a whole-life sentence to be imposed the offending must be "exceptionally high".

He said: "We have to look at the whole of the circumstances and to consider whether this was a case where the seriousness of the offending was exceptionally high - we have no doubt that it was."

When sentencing Simpson-Kent at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Singh said Ms Blake, though depressed, had been ''planning for the months ahead both in relation to her own interests and in relation to the boys' education".

He said: ''In my judgment this was indeed a case where each murder involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning."

Ms Blake played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997. She went on to work as a voice-over artist and sign language interpreter.