A suspect in the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence will be freed from prison in weeks despite failing to pay back any of the £90,000 he made from a £3 million drugs plot.
Jamie Acourt, 46, who spent more than two years on the run in Spain under the alias Simon Alfonzo, will be released on November 3 after serving half his nine-year sentence.
He told a judge he has been offered a job with construction firm Precision Contractors, run by his “friend and builder” Matthew Chapman, and will be supported on the outside by his partner Terri Dean.
Acourt, who has two children aged 23 and 19, was one of five men arrested over the murder of 18-year-old Mr Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in Eltham, south-east London, on April 22 1993.
Two of the five, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were prosecuted and handed life sentences in 2012 after being found guilty of murder.
Norris was referred to the police for investigation last week after allegedly taking selfies in his HMP Dartmoor prison cell and sending them to friends.
Acourt was last January ordered to pay back £90,000 in ill-gotten gains or face having another year added to his jail sentence by a judge at Kingston Crown Court.
His brother Neil Acourt, who was also arrested over Mr Lawrence’s murder, was jailed for over six years over the same drugs plot, which saw some 750kg of cannabis resin, with an estimated street value of around £3 million, moved between London and South Shields, Tyne and Wear.
Jamie Acourt appeared at City of London Magistrates’ Court on Friday by video link from Stocken prison in Rutland, where police asked District Judge Neeta Minhas to impose the default sentence over his failure to pay the confiscation order.
Pc David Bracken said: “Mr Acourt has not paid anything or shown any willingness to pay anything.
“Obviously, he’s going to be released soon and there has been no goodwill on his part.”
Acourt told the judge he will have served four and a half years of his sentence next month and will spend the rest of the term on licence.
“I’m more than willing to pay but obviously with the cost of living and everything else, I can only earn what I can earn and I can only pay what I can pay,” he said.
Acourt said his family have not paid any of the money “because they don’t have the funds” and, when asked how much he intends to pay a month, said: “Whatever I can pay.
“Once I’m out and worked out what I can pay – £50 a month, £100 a month, whatever I have got left after all the outgoings.”
The judge agreed Acourt should be released from prison but ordered him to pay back £500 a month or face the reactivation of his jail sentence, saying the sums he suggested would not even cover the interest of £20 a day.
“I am not going to activate the default sentence,” she said.
“I can see before me you have a job offer supported by an email from the managing director of that company.
“You will be earning a decent salary. It is not minimum wage.
“You have a partner who has confirmed she will contribute towards the amount which is outstanding, which is a significant amount.
“I am going to give you the opportunity to come out into the community and pay that.
“If you do not pay, the consequences are you will be serving that term.
“If you choose to leave the country and not pay, a warrant will be issued for your arrest and you will serve that sentence when you come back to the country.”
She said Acourt has until January 1 next year to make the first payment.
The fifth suspect in Mr Lawrence’s murder, Luke Knight, has remained free.