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Three convicted of burning teenager alive

A woman and two men were today convicted of murdering a teenager who was doused in petrol and then burned alive, police said.

Maria Chandler, 40, Jimi-Lee Stewart, 25, and Jonathan Clarke, 20, killed 17-year-old student Simon Everitt in a re-enactment of a scene from a spoof horror movie.

Jurors returned guilty verdicts at Norwich Crown Court following a four-week trial.

Mr Everitt, 17, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was tied to a tree in woodland in nearby Mautby and then set on fire. His body was found on June 28 last year - about three weeks after he was last seen.

Jurors were told the murder replicated a scene from the film Severance.

Chandler and Stewart, both of Great Yarmouth, and Clarke, of Telford, Shropshire, were each found guilty of murder, a Norfolk police spokesman said.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said the case was a demonstration of "grotesque brutality".

Clarke, Stewart and Mr Everitt had all been involved in a tangled love affair with a woman called Fiona Statham, who was 19 at the time of the murder. Chandler, a close friend of Ms Statham, fell out with Mr Everitt during his on-off relationship with Ms Statham, jurors were told.

Each of the three defendants had threatened to harm Mr Everitt - and Clarke had been charged with assaulting him shortly before the murder.

Mr Khalil, outlining the case, said: "He was initially assaulted. He was bundled into a car, taken to a forest or wooded area. He was then tied to a tree with blue nylon roping.

"Petrol was poured on to him and into his throat. He was then set on fire whilst tied to that tree.

"The rope burned through. He was still alive. He stepped from the tree a short distance, still alight, and there he was to die."

Mr Khalil said the death of Mr Everitt recreated the "worst aspects" of the film Severance but added this involved "real" people.

Clarke had watched the film about a year before Mr Everitt was killed, it emerged during the trial.

"When Clarke watched that DVD, he made a comment to this effect: 'Wouldn't it be wicked if you could actually do that to someone in real life?' " said Mr Khalil.

Responding to the verdict, the victim's stepmother, Susan, branded the killers "evil" and said her stepson had done nothing wrong except fall in love with "the wrong girl".

She said: "Simon did not deserve it, no one deserved it. He did not do anything wrong apart from fall in love with the wrong girl."

In a statement outside court, she paid tribute to a "loving son and brother", adding: "He loved life and lived it to the full, never wanting to waste a minute. He had so many aspirations, we would often wonder what he would choose.

"His death is horrific and should not happen to anyone let alone a young, energetic man with everything to live for."