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I used to cut up bodies for the Adams family, Jigsaw murderer told witness

Man admits to disposing of kitchen salesman's body across two counties

A man who boasted that he used to cut up and bury bodies on behalf of a notorious London crime family yesterday admitted murdering a man, dismembering him and scattering his remains across two counties.

Stephen Marshall, 38, had been on trial for killing Jeffrey Howe but yesterday, at the end of the third week of evidence, he changed his plea to guilty.

The severed remains of Mr Howe, 49, from Southgate, north London, were discovered across Hertfordshire and Leicestershire last year. The case became known as "the jigsaw murder" after the series of macabre finds.

Marshall had previously admitted dismembering Mr Howe and disposing of his body parts but denied murder. He was on trial alongside his girlfriend Sarah Bush, 21, who still denies murdering and dismembering Mr Howe.

It was alleged that Marshall and Bush planned to kill their flatmate Mr Howe, 49, and assume his identity so that they could live in his flat, claim housing benefit and sell his possessions.

St Albans Crown Court was told that in March last year Marshall stabbed Mr Howe in the back while Ms Bush, 21, placed a pillow over his face. They then cut up the kitchen salesman's body before disposing of the parts, the jury was told. Only Mr Howe's hands have not been found.

Mr Howe's limbs had been "skilfully and cleanly" removed from his body, the court was told. During the trial the jury heard from a witness who said that Marshall had boasted that he had dismembered bodies for the Adams family – an infamous crime network based in Clerkenwell, north London.

The woman, who cannot be named, told the court that Marshall claimed to have been a cousin of the Adams family and that his uncle was Terry Adams, now serving seven years for money laundering.

She said: "Stephen claimed that Terry was big in the underworld in London. He said that he began working the doors and then, because he was part of the family, got asked to do additional jobs after hours – taking care of situations as he put it, which meant at times he said that bodies would appear and he was asked to take care of them."

She told the court that that meant dismembering the bodies and burying them. The woman said: "He would cut up the bodies, decapitate them, severing them at their limbs. He said they would put them into black bags and bury them, sometimes in Epping Forest, sometimes in different places."

The woman said Marshall told her he used a meat cleaver, large meat knives, and sometimes even a chainsaw or a hacksaw. She said: "He described how it would take a long time and be extremely laborious, take hours and hours to do. He would bury them, put them in plastic bags and bury them, separately in different places."

The court has also heard from Sarah Bush's former partner Lee Bunyan. Mr Bunyan told of an argument he had had with Marshall about Bush seeing their children. Mr Bunyan told the police that Marshall said: "If you don't let Sarah see the kids I'm going to take you to Epping and get rid of you."

Ms Bush's trial continues.