A teenager, described as a ‘quiet unassuming’ person, was yesterday found guilty of murdering a high-ranking civil servant at his country cottage in Mayfield.
Ben Bamford, aged 18 and from Crowborough, inflicted more than 40 injuries during a “sustained attack” on senior HM Revenue and Customs official Paul Jefferies, 52.
Mr Jefferies, who reportedly advised ex-chancellor George Osborne’s Treasury team, was found on his blood-covered kitchen floor in Coggins Mill Lane in March.
The pair had met via the gay dating app Grimndr.
Lewes Crown Court heard how Bamford had sought to rob Mr Jefferies after the teenager had built up drugs debts of around £400 which he was being pressurised to repay.
Bamford, of South Street, Crowborough, denied murder, claiming he was protecting himself from Mr Jefferies but jurors convicted him after deliberating for three hours.
The former pupil of the town’s Beacon Academy stood emotionless flanked by two dock officers as the verdict was announced by the jury foreman.
His mother Annmarie Bamford broke down in tears as she sat next to her husband Richard.
Judge Mr Justice Spencer adjourned sentencing until today.
The judge said “a little time for reflection” was needed to consider the sentence, partly due to the fact Bamford was just 17 when the murder took place.
Mr Jefferies, described by colleagues as “diligent, personable but very private”, moved to Sussex from London about five years before his death following the breakdown of a relationship.
Bamford met Mr Jefferies some two years before the killing when he was aged 15. Contact resumed in December 2015 following a break.
Unknown to Mr Jefferies, by the time they met again Bamford was “desperate” for money to settle drugs debts and was being pressurised by a dealer.
During his defence, Bamford told the court he had met Mr Jefferies in the hope he would give him money, as he had done so in the past.
Bamford claimed he stabbed Mr Jefferies to protect himself.
After leaving Mr Jefferies for dead on the kitchen floor at his Grade II-listed cottage, Bamford took his Audi TT car and picked up a friend en route to Eastbourne District General Hospital.
He was admitted claiming his injuries had been caused by self-harming to avoid police involvement.
Mrs Bamford, a nurse, told the court how she was left “dumb-founded” after her son told her he had killed someone. He recuperating at home following an operation for his injuries.
Mrs Bamford told jurors: “I kept saying that I need to know what’s happening. And then he shouted, ‘I think I’ve killed somebody’.
“I had to ask him again because he was being very tearful and angry. I asked him again in disbelief – ‘What?’.
“And he said again, ‘I think I’ve killed somebody’. He then went on to his bed and laid there face down very upset and very tearful.”
Shocked at his claims, Mrs Bamford went online to find anything to support what he was saying – and she found a report of a suspicious death in Mayfield.
“I said to Ben, ‘We need to go to the police’ and he said, ‘Yes, I know’,” said Mrs Bamford.
A Crowborough businessman, who asked not to be named, told the TImes: “I met him [Bamford] a couple of times and he came across as a quite, unassuming guy who was always very polite.”