Knifeman guilty of murdering girlfriend and three family members

Cannabis addict who killed his girlfriend, 27, and three generations of her family in drug and alcohol-fuelled knife attack ‘sacrifice’ at their home is found guilty of their murder

A cannabis addict who killed his girlfriend and three generations of her family in the same savage attack that he claimed was a ‘sacrifice’ was today found guilty of murder. 

Joshua Jacques, 29, had been bingeing on alcohol and smoking pot for 12 hours when he attacked Samantha Drummonds and her family in their own home in Bermondsey, south London, early on April 25 last year.

Police found the bodies of Ms Drummonds, 27, her mother Tanysha Ofori-Akuffo, 45, grandmother Dolet Hill, 64, and Ms Hill’s partner, Denton Burke, 58, after being alerted to a disturbance by a neighbour.

Jacques had left a ‘bloodbath’ in his wake as he attacked the victims with a knife at the terraced home in Delaford Road. Police officers found Mr Burke’s body at the foot of the stairs and the three women ‘heaped together’ in the kitchen.

Armed officers discovered Jacques naked and lying in the upstairs bathroom in a praying position, screaming ‘Allah, take me!’, ‘Kill me now’, ‘Get rid of me’, and ‘God please forgive me’.

Joshua Jacques, 29, was today found guilty of murdering his girlfriend and three members of her family 

Jacques’ girlfriend Samantha Drummonds, 29, was described as ‘an upbeat, fun-loving, bubbly young lady’

Later, at Lewisham Hospital, Jacques said: ‘I ain’t even in the wrong, I did them for sacrifice’, and also warned: ‘I will do something stupid again.’

He had admitted their manslaughters but denied murder on the basis that he was mentally unwell at the time.

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An Old Bailey jury deliberated for two hours to find Jacques, from Lewisham, south-east London, guilty of four counts of murder today.

Members of the victims’ family expressed relief at the unanimous verdicts with one saying ‘thank you, Jesus’.

The defendant looked down and shook his head in the dock as the jury foreman read out each of the four guilty verdicts.

Mr Justice Bryan adjourned sentencing until February 9 and remanded Jacques into custody.

Previously, prosecutor Tom Little KC said: ‘The prosecution case is that this is a clear case of murder, or more accurately a clear case of quadruple murder.’

He argued Jacques’ ability to form a rational judgment and exercise self-control were not substantially impaired by any psychiatric condition, and his behaviour was brought about by ‘self-induced intoxication, taking drugs and drinking alcohol’.

He told jurors: ‘This, we say, led to a transient psychotic disorder not meeting the requirements for the defendant to make out a partial defence of diminished responsibility.’

Jurors were told Jacques had 11 previous convictions for 20 offences, including for cannabis, being in possession of a silver knuckle duster, and robbery. 

Dolet Hill and Denton Burke were both killed inside their three-bedroom home close to Millwall’s stadium

Dolet Hill (in the multi-coloured dress), her daughter Tanysha Drummonds (with her arm around her) and her other daughter Tracey Henry (pictured in a white dress)

He first had a mental health assessment in April 2016 after seeking hospital treatment for drinking water from a toilet.

He was arrested after he threatened to stab and shoot a security officer, and, while in police custody, threw food around his cell.

He said he had took 3g of skunk cannabis a day and refused to consider cutting down, saying he would carry on smoking marijuana ‘even if it killed’ him.

In 2018, he was detained under the Mental Health Act after he was seen praying in the middle of a busy road in Brixton, south London, and was in hospital from April 27 to around August 7 of that year.

Initially on admission, the impression was of drug-induced mania with psychotic features, jurors were told.

In February 2020, he was jailed for 51 months for conspiring to deal heroin and crack cocaine, and possessing cannabis. He was released on November 11 2021.

In probation reports from April last year, Jacques was described as chatty and engaged.

Three days before the killing, he called his probation officer to say that he had been offered a job at a radio station.

Two days later, Ms Drummonds confided in a friend that she believed Jacques was having an ‘episode’ and had been ‘chatting all night and was fixated on topics’.

Police officers and floral tributes were seen outside the property in Bermondsey where three generations of the same family died

Parts of the London skyline are seen in the background as police and forensic officers investigate in Bermondsey last April

Mr Little told jurors no medical calls were made before the killings nor was Jacques taken to hospital.

Last April 25, Jacques had visited the house where Mr Burke and Ms Hill lived only for the second time.

Ms Ofori-Akuffo, also known as Racquel, sometimes stayed at the property to care for her mother, who was receiving treatment for cancer, while Ms Drummonds had been living there as her own flat was undergoing renovation, Mr Little told jurors.

After Jacques launched his attack, Ms Drummonds called his mother Norma Derrivere but all she was able to say was ‘Norma he’s sta… sta… ahhh’.

In a voice note to her best friend, she said: ‘Josh is basically getting to the point where he could basically have an episode, like I don’t know what’s triggered him..’

There were also FaceTime calls between Jacques and his mother that evening, and during one, after 2am, he said: ‘I’m ending it, I’m gonna make a sacrifice.’

Neighbour Alice Canal heard a cat screeching, a male voice swearing, movement, banging and what she believed was someone falling down stairs, which prompted her to call 999 at around 1.42am.

It was claimed on his behalf that Jacques had exhibited manic symptoms consistent with bipolar disorder.

He doubled his skunk cannabis intake from his birthday on April 19 last year – just days before the killings.

However, that escalation came weeks after he began having trouble sleeping which was a symptom of mania, the defence argued.

The killing took place at Dolet’s £600,000 home just yards away from Millwall FC’s stadium

Dr Nigel Blackwood, a forensic psychiatrist for the prosecution, said the symptoms of manic behaviour were caused by the large amount of cannabis Jacques had consumed.

He told the court: ‘The defence psychiatrists maintain there was a serious mental illness which recurs in the context of cannabis use.’

He said it was his view that the symptoms ‘could be entirely produced by the cannabis use he was using at that time’ without an underlying condition.

Jacques was a cannabis user from the age of 12 and became a drug dealer.

Dr Blackwood said he believed drug use was also the cause of Jacques’ behaviour in 2018 and that he did not have bipolar disorder.

‘The symptoms were consistent with a manic episode but to me, it was driven by his drug use at that time,’ he said.

He said what Jacques experienced was a ‘drug induced mania with psychotic features’.

Jacques had also been taking MDMA, a form of ecstasy, in the days leading up to the killings.  

Giving evidence for the defence, psychiatrist Dr Raman Deo said Jacques was ‘manic and paranoid on a number of issues’.

He said: ‘My opinion is that on balance the abnormality of mental function arising from bipolar disorder would have been a significant factor in the killings.’

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