Double killer likely to die in prison for cutting throats of girlfriend and man

A “jealous” boyfriend who slit the throats of his partner and an associate with a Stanley knife is likely to die in prison after being jailed for life with a minimum term of 39 years.

Lee Peacock, 50, killed his girlfriend of 10 years Sharon Pickles, 46, and Clinton Ashmore, 59, during a two-day violence spree through Westminster in August 2021 within weeks of being released from jail.

The self-confessed burglar, who had been freed from prison on June 4 2021, refused to attend his sentencing at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

Mr Justice Murray said “no good reason” had been given for his absence, and read the remarks he had addressed to Peacock, who will receive them in written form.

The judge described the “dramatic and brutal way” in which Peacock slaughtered his victims, and said he is likely to “die in prison”.

“The minimum term I must impose in this case means that even if you live a long life, there is a strong possibility that you will die in prison even before you are eligible for consideration for release by the Parole Board,” he said.

Relatives of the two victims gasped with relief and embraced each other as Peacock was handed a life sentence with a 39-year minimum term.

The Judge recounted how Peacock had “slashed the throat of Sharon Pickles with a Stanley knife” in the bedroom of her Marylebone flat at around 6am on August 18 2021.

“This led to substantial blood loss, blood in her airways and lungs, a rapid collapse, unconsciousness, and ultimately death,” he said.

“We will never know why you did this. There was no eye witness.

“You and Sharon were alone in her bedroom when you killed her… it appears that you lashed out at Sharon in a fit of rage, jealous of her sexual relationship with another man.”

The attack happened while Ms Pickles’ flatmate, Stephen Coggin, who she cared for and who was was “bedridden with multiple sclerosis” slept in another room, oblivious to the murder until police arrived some 38 hours later.

Mr Justice Murray said Peacock killed Ms Pickles “suddenly” and she was “taken by surprise” after supporting him through his “ups and downs with drug abuse and crime” for 10 years.

Lee Peacock court case
Sharon Pickles was found dead at her flat in Marylebone in August 2021 (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The following day, Peacock began to hunt for a woman who claimed he believed was part of a group of drug dealers, and a man known as “Skrilla” who he suspected of having a sexual relationship with Ms Pickles.

Peacock tracked her down at Mr Ashmore’s flat, where the woman had been visiting with her child, and which was less than half a mile away from Ms Pickles’ home.

The court heard that Peacock told police he “intended to kill her but could not do that in front of her child”, but when the woman and child left, he used the same blade he had used to kill Ms Pickles on Mr Ashmore instead.

Peacock inflicted nine wounds to Mr Ashmore’s face, neck and left arm, and friends later found his body “collapsed next to his bed” and described “seeing blood everywhere” amid a “horrifying scene”.

Mr Justice Murray said: “The jury saw photos taken by the police, which showed a great deal of blood in various rooms of the flat, most notably in the hallway and Mr Ashmore’s bedroom, including blood dripped, sprayed, and transferred by contact on to the floor, walls, doors, and other surfaces.”

Peacock then visited his parents’ home in Wembley with Ms Pickles’ kitten in a rucksack, and confessed to his father, describing the killing of his girlfriend as “like (something) you see on TV”.

Lee Peacock court case
Clinton Ashmore was also killed by Lee Peacock (Metropolitan Police/PA)

His father informed the police, who tracked him down on August 25 inside a boathouse on the Grand Union Canal in Westminster, which Mr Justice Murray said “had the appearance of a floating shed” and had “formerly been used as a crack house”.

The “aggravating factors” in Peacock’s case were that he was on licence at the time, that he had killed his victims in their own homes, and that Mr Ashmore’s death was part of a “planned campaign to kill a number of others”.

Mr Justice Murray said there was “little or no” mitigation since Peacock is “blessed with some intelligence” and “came from a good home with parents and a sister” who loved him.

“The many troubles you have suffered since you were a teenager are down to the choices that you have made, particularly your decision to use illegal drugs, in particular, crack cocaine,” he said.

Mr Justice Murray concluded that while the killing of Ms Pickles was not planned, there was “a significant level of premeditation and planning” in the murder of Mr Ashmore.

In a statement, Ms Pickles’ family said: “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.”

Mr Ashmore’s family described him as a “pure and beautiful soul”.

They said in a statement: “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.”

At the time of the murders, Peacock was under supervision by probation services after being released from prison at the automatic halfway point of a 40-month sentence for aggravated burglary.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said in a statement: “This was a horrific crime and our sympathies are with the families of Sharon Pickles and Clinton Ashmore.

“Serious further offences are rare but we are investing £155 million more every year into the Probation Service and recruited thousands of extra staff to improve the supervision of offenders and, keep the public safe.”