Family from hell caged for murdering their 'slave' lodger and dumping body in Arlesey lagoon
THREE brothers, their mother and two of their girlfriends were jailed for a total of 93 years today (Monday)for their parts in killing their lodger who they treated like a slave, cutting up his body and dumping it in the Blue Lagoon at Arlesey. The family
THREE brothers, their mother and two of their girlfriends were jailed for a total of 93 years today (Monday)for their parts in killing their lodger who they treated like a slave, cutting up his body and dumping it in the Blue Lagoon at Arlesey.
The family from hell were told by Judge John Bevan QC at Luton Crown Court that their behaviour was "depraved" during the 10 years that Michael Gilbert, 26, lived with them.
"I don't think I have ever seen a case involving cruelty and violence involving group entertainment as this grotesque story has revealed," said the judge.
"It was positively barbaric in today's society. I cannot understand how this grotesque situation was allowed to continue.
"Michael Gilbert may have had many faults but that was no reason to treat him as a plaything for your enjoyment and entertainment.
"He was treated as a dog's body, his life was a misery. It was as desperate and disparate situation as one can imagine.
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"What curious magnetism attracted Michael to repeatedly return to this household and fail to cooperate with police is curious and unexplained. He said they were his family and he loved them. It led to a degrading, cruel, violent and lonely death."
Judge Bevan also criticised the benefits system which supported a household where at one time 10 people were living, with a menagerie of pets, on benefits totalling �300 a day.
He said: "Not one of the four healthy sons did a stroke. Their money came from hard-pressed taxpayers who received a nil return for their money except petty crime and bad neighbourliness.
"The moral compass was totally lacking from this household."
He jailed the eldest son and ringleader James Watt, 27, to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 36 years. He was found guilty of murder and received concurrent sentences for two charges of perverting the course of justice, which he had pleaded guilty to.
Judge Bevan said he was "dangerous, cruel, sadistic, vindictive, spiteful and hurtful", who did not belong in society.
His girlfriend Natasha Oldfield, 29, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 18 years with concurrent sentences for perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender. She had denied all the charges but was convicted by a jury last week.
Nichola Roberts, 22, who lived at the house with Richard Watt, now her former boyfriend, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years with a concurrent sentence for perverting the course of justice. She had pleaded not guilty and was convicted by a jury.
The boys' mother Jennifer Smith-Dennis, 58, was jailed for 10 years in total - six and a half years for familial homicide and three and a half years for perverting the course of justice by disposing of the body. She also received a concurrent sentence for another charge of perverting justice.
The youngest son, Robert Watt, 20, was sentenced to a total of eight years youth custody - four and a half years for familial homicide which he had denied and three and a half years for perverting the course of justice in disposing of the body which he admitted. He received a concurrent sentence for perverting justice by lying to police which he also admitted.
Richard Watt, 25, was sentenced to six years for familial homicide. He had pleaded guilty to the charge, assisted police in finding the missing head, and gave evidence for the prosecution over five days against his family and former girlfriend.
The father of the family, Antonio Watt, 70, was cleared by the judge of familial homicide and by the jury of perverting the course of justice. He was not in court to see his family sentenced.
They all lived at a house in Marlborough Road, Luton, when the murder was committed. They later moved to Chertsey Close and Nichola Roberts to Burford Close, Luton.