TV presenter was murdered by man under surveillance

One of the men convicted of murdering the Big Breakfast presenter Mark Levy was under surveillance by police tracking a drugs deal when the crime was committed, it was revealed yesterday.

Patrick Smith kidnapped and murdered Mr Levy after the pair fell out over a business deal involving the importing of cigarettes, Smith claiming that his victim owed him £40,000. Mr Levy's body has never been found.

Smith and his accomplice Joe Mercieca were jailed for life for murder at the Old Bailey in May. But yesterday, after other members of Smith's drugs gang were sentenced in a separate trial, reporting restrictions were lifted and it was revealed that Smith was being followed by police when he killed Mr Levy.

Mr Levy, 42, who lived in Ware, Hertfordshire, found fleeting fame in 1998 when he appeared on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast show presenting car-buying tips dressed as Arthur Daley in the TV series Minder. But he also had a profitable sideline buying and selling anything from property to designer watches.

After they fell out, Smith lured Mr Levy to an industrial estate in Alperton, west London, where he was tied to a chair and beaten, the court had heard.

Mr Levy was placed in the boot of a silver Mercedes which was later seen by National Crime Squad officers being driven by Smith and Mercieca to a farmhouse in Buckinghamshire. The car was being electronically tagged by the squad, who were awaiting the arrival of 500kg of cannabis. But outside court Detective Chief Superintendent Frank Sole said his officers had not been in a position to see the murder.

"Because Patrick Smith was so very aware of police surveillance tactics, NCS officers had to remain far enough away so that they would never be spotted," he said. Officers had not entered the industrial estate or the farm land.

George Aird, 36, of Iver, Buckinghamshire, Gary Dulieu, 28, of Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, and Anthony Brown, 36, of Camden, north London, were jailed for a total of 50 months after admitting conspiracy to supply cannabis.