Police informer is jailed for perjury over knife murder: Testimony led to man's life sentence for killing of stallholder at 1987 Notting Hill Carnival

A POLICE informer was jailed for three years at the Old Bailey yesterday for lying during the trial of a man convicted of murdering a stallholder at the 1987 Notting Hill Carnival in London.

Kevin Sarbutts claimed he was coerced by police into giving evidence against Alban Turner. After the jury failed to agree a verdict during the first trial at the Old Bailey in September 1988, a retrial took place at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Sarbutts's testimony at Aylesbury Crown Court in December 1988 had led to Mr Turner, 26, being jailed for life for stabbing Michael Galvin.

Sentencing Sarbutts, 27, Judge Brian Smedley said: 'Whether Mr Turner was the victim of your perjury or the beneficiary of it I cannot say. It is not for me to express a view.'

He added: 'There is no doubt that one of the consequences of your perjury was that a vast amount of public money and police time had been totally wasted. It must be remembered that when perjury is committed there is always one victim - justice.'

Sarbutts had 'enjoyed' being a police informer before Mr Turner's trial - and had then collected a pounds 6,500 reward, Jeremy Roberts QC, for the prosecution, told the court. He also knew that he could escape jail and be granted bail for a series of dishonesty offences for which he had been arrested.

The jury heard that Sarbutts had been arrested for two cheque frauds and stealing pounds 300. He had failed to turn up at Harrow magistrates' court for one cheque fraud and a warrant was out for his arrest.

He was also in breach of a suspended sentence and knew that he was likely to be refused bail and faced jail. 'He knew he was in quite serious trouble. He did not want to go to prison and decided to try out a well- known method of avoiding a jail sentence and offer his services as a police informer,' Mr Roberts said.

The murder had been headline news but for six weeks detectives had drawn a blank until Sarbutts came forward and named the killer.

Mr Roberts said that detectives at Shepherd's Bush police station, west London, allowed Sarbutts to use the station like a 'social club'.

'The police paid him sums of money in cash for his living expenses and so he could drink in pubs where people he named in association with the murder frequented.

'He was rather enjoying his new- found status, certainly he was using the money they paid him. He was allowed to play snooker at the police station and used it like a social club.'

But 'remarkably' Sarbutts then went to the Daily Mirror and said he had lied at the trial. He told the newspaper the only reason he gave false evidence was that the police had beaten and threatened him, Mr Roberts said.

Mr Turner appealed and the Police Complaints Authority began an investigation into Sarbutts's claim. Sarbutts repeated his allegations against the police at the appeal hearing in March 1990. The judges then decided they could not be sure which of Sarbutts's two stories were true and quashed Mr Turner's conviction.

Sarbutts, an unemployed chef of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, denied committing perjury at the appeal court.