Family convicted over headless body found in lagoon

Five members of a family have been convicted over the death of a man whose headless corpse was found in a lake.

Michael Gilbert was kept as a slave and tortured before being killed and decapitated then dumped in the Blue Lagoon in Arlesey,

Bedfordshire, last year.

James Watt, 27, his girlfriend Natasha Oldfield and his brother's girlfriend, Nichola Roberts, were unanimously convicted of the 27-year-old's murder by a jury at Luton Crown Court yesterday.

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James's brother, Robert Watt, 20, and his mother, Jennifer Smith-Dennis, 58, were also found guilty of familial homicide. A third brother, Richard Watt, 25, previously admitted familial homicide and perverting the course of justice.

The court had heard how "vulnerable" Mr Gilbert was treated as a slave by the family.

Stuart Trimmer QC, prosecuting, said he was hit with bats, shot, and stabbed. Beatings were often filmed on mobile phones.

On one occasion he was made to goad a large pet lizard until it attacked him with its tail, and Oldfield's diary included plans for a game show where contestants would pay 5 to slap him and 25 to headbutt him.

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Mr Gilbert escaped several times but they would track him down and force him to come back.

The jury unanimously convicted James Watt, from Chertsey Close, Luton, Bedfordshire, of murder. He had already admitted familial homicide and perverting the course of justice.

Robert Watt, 20, was convicted of familial homicide and had already pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. He was acquitted of murder earlier in the trial.

Richard Watt's girlfriend, Nichola Roberts, 22, and Natasha Oldfield, 29, were both found guilty of murder and perverting the course of justice. Oldfield was also convicted of assisting an offender.

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The brothers' mother, Jennifer Smith-Dennis, 58, was found guilty of familial homicide and perverting the course of justice.

Their father, Antonio Watt, 60, was previously cleared of familial homicide and was acquitted yesterday of perverting the course of justice.

Detectives believe Mr Gilbert died overnight between January 21 and 22 last year as a result of the abuse he had suffered. A bag containing his headless corpse was found by two dog walkers on May 10, 2009, weighted down with a stone from the patio wall at the Watt family home.

James, Robert and Richard Watt, along with their mother Smith-Dennis, Oldfield and Roberts, will be sentenced on Monday.

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