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Couple convicted after lodger murdered and body scattered across town

|News, Violent crime

A man who murdered his lodger before dismembering and scattering his body around Bournemouth has been convicted – following a successful prosecution by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Benjamin Atkins, 49, murdered lodger Simon Shotton, 49, at his home in Boscombe in August 2023, following a disagreement over money Mr Shotton believed he was owed.

Atkins killed Mr Shotton and, in a heinous attempt to cover up what he had done, worked with his partner Debbie Pereira, 39, to dispose of the body in several locations across the Bournemouth area.

Atkins also burned some of Mr Shotton’s remains in his back garden, while Pereira helped her partner clean their home to remove any trace of the crime.

Both defendants denied murder, with Atkins admitting to killing Mr Shotton but claiming self-defence. However, the Crown Prosecution Service utilised extensive CCTV evidence collected by Dorset Police to expose the calculated actions of both Atkins and Pereira in the aftermath of the murder.

On August 18, just hours after it is believed the killing took place, CCTV showed Pereira calmly selling Mr Shotton’s mobile phone at a Cash Creators shop. Prosecutors argued this meant Mr Shotton was lying dead at the house in Boscombe at this time.

The jury were also shown clips of the following day, August 19, which showed the pair walking down a Bournemouth street with Atkins carrying a hacksaw they had just stolen from a shop – which experts believe was the tool used to dismember Mr Shotton.

The prosecution also successfully applied to the court to admit as evidence a covert recording which heard the pair discussing the disposal of Mr Shotton’s remains and Pereira’s use of bleach to cover their tracks.

Kirsty Gordon, a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS Wessex, said: “This was a truly disturbing case which shocked the residents of Bournemouth and its surrounding towns.

“Atkins and Pereira’s cruelty and lack of humanity is laid bare – after Mr Shotton was murdered by Atkins in cold blood over a minor dispute, they robbed him the dignity of a proper burial.

“We worked closely with Dorset Police, whose meticulous investigation work greatly aided our ability to deliver swift justice in an incredibly complex case where evidence continued to unfold months after the defendants were charged.

“Our thoughts remain firmly with Mr Shotton’s family and we hope today’s verdict will, in time, be of some comfort to them.”

Following a month-long trial at Winchester Crown Court, Atkins was today found guilty of murder, while Pereira was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Atkins had previously admitted further charges of perverting the course of justice and preventing the burial of a corpse. Pereira previously admitted to preventing the burial of a corpse.

They will be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court at a later date.

Notes to editors

  • Benjamin Lee Atkins [DOB: 17/10/1974] was convicted of murder, perverting the course of justice and preventing the burial of a corpse. 
  • Debbie Ann Pereira [DOB: 14/12/1984] was convicted of perverting the course of justice and preventing the burial of a corpse. She was found not guilty of murder. 
  • They will be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court at a later date to be confirmed. 
  • Kirsty Gordon is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS Wessex.

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