A suspect in the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence is earning £3,600 a month as a courier after being freed from prison, a court has heard.
Jamie Acourt, 46, covered his face with a scarf as he arrived at City of London Magistrates’ Court on Friday, wearing Gucci sunglasses and a flat cap, over his failure to pay back £90,000 he made from a £3 million drugs plot.
He refused to answer questions about the murder of 18-year-old Mr Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in Eltham, south-east London, 30 years ago, on April 22 1993, and ran as he left the building.
Acourt was one of five men arrested.
Two of them, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were handed life sentences in 2012 after being found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey.
Acourt, who spent more than two years on the run living in Spain under the alias Simon Alfonzo, was released from prison in November after serving half of his nine-year sentence over the drugs plot.
His brother Neil Acourt, who was also arrested over Mr Lawrence’s murder, was jailed for more than six years over the same conspiracy, which saw some 750kg of cannabis resin, with an estimated street value of about £3 million moved between London and South Shields, Tyne and Wear.
The fifth suspect in Mr Lawrence’s murder, Luke Knight, has remained free.
Acourt was in January 2021 ordered to pay back £90,000 or face another year added to his jail sentence, by a judge at Kingston Crown Court.
In October last year police asked a judge to impose a default prison 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 said his family have not paid any of the money “because they don’t have the funds”.
He said he had been offered a job with construction firm Precision Contractors Ltd, run by his “friend and builder” Matthew Chapman, and would be supported on the outside by his partner, Terri Dean, and was ordered to pay back £500 a month.
But the court heard on Friday that Acourt, who has two children, aged 23 and 19, is working as a self-employed courier.
His lawyer, Joseph Barlow, said he is earning £3,600 a month with outgoings of around £2,700, and asked for more time to suggest a higher monthly payment.
Prosecutor Shahida Parveen said Acourt has made three £500 payments but that the total amount has now risen to £102,329 with interest.
District Judge Robert Brown told Acourt: “I am encouraged by the suggestion a higher amount might be offered sooner rather than later.
“I am going to direct payments continue at £500 a month and set a review date in three months when I hope Mr Acourt will be in a position to make a better offer.
“Otherwise this is going to go on for many years and he is going to have to come back to court every three months, which is not in anyone’s interests.
“The sooner it is settled the better it will be.”