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London man who killed girlfriend and her relatives as ‘sacrifice’ jailed for life

A man who claimed he stabbed his girlfriend and three of her family members as a “sacrifice” has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 46 years for their murders.

Joshua Jacques, 29, had consumed drugs and alcohol when he attacked Samantha Drummonds and her family with a knife in their home in south London in April 2022, the Old Bailey heard.

Samantha Drummonds

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

Officers found Burke’s body at the foot of the stairs and the three women “heaped together” in the kitchen.

Tanysha Ofori-Akuffo

Mr Justice Bryan said Jacques had committed the “horrific catalogue of murders” after using skunk cannabis.

Addressing Jacques in the dock, the judge said he had inflicted the murders “in the most brutal of circumstances on three generations of the same family” after increasing his daily intake of the drug.

He said Jacques’ offending had been contributed to by cannabis abuse, and that he was “well aware” of the impact of it on his mental health.

He added: “It is a salutary lesson to all those who peddle the myth that cannabis is not a dangerous drug. It is, and its deleterious effect on mental health and its potential to cause psychosis is well-established.”

The court heard that Jacques took 3gm of skunk cannabis a day and refused to consider cutting down, saying he would carry on smoking marijuana “even if it killed” him.

At the scene, 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”.

Later, at Lewisham hospital, he said: “I ain’t even in the wrong, I did them for sacrifice,” and warned: “I will do something stupid again.”

Paul Raudnitz KC, mitigating for Jacques at the sentencing hearing, said the attack was not pre-meditated.

A court artist’s sketch of Joshua Jacques sitting next to a security man wearing a mask

He also read out an apology from his client to the victims’ families – the first time Jacques has expressed remorse for his actions.

“I would like to say to the family of the deceased, I am truly and sincerely sorry for all of the anguish, pain and heartache I have caused,” Jacques wrote. “I have discussed it with myself and I cannot believe that I am the cause of this monstrosity.”

In a victim impact statement, Tracey-Ann Henry, the daughter of Hill and the sister of Ofori-Akuffo, said her mother had only recently been successfully treated for cancer. She said her mother had her last radiotherapy session the day before she was stabbed to death.

Henry, who is the aunt of Drummonds, said: “How could someone kill four people in one night? It is like something from a horror movie.”

Danny Ofori-Akuffo, the husband of Tanysha, said in his impact statement that he had “cried like a child” after the incident. “I am a proud man and I have cried like a child in front of so many people,” he said.

Jacques admitted manslaughter but denied murder on the basis that he was mentally unwell at the time.

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