Benjamin Lee Atkins, aged 49 and of Bournemouth, was convicted of the murder of 49-year-old Mr Shotton on Wednesday 22 May 2024 following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.

Atkins had previously admitted further charges of perverting the course of justice and preventing the burial of a corpse.

Debbie Ann Pereira, aged 39 and also of Bournemouth, was found not guilty of murder but was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. She admitted a charge of preventing the burial of a corpse during the course of the trial.

The defendants will return to court to be sentenced on a date to be confirmed.

The charges related to the discovery of human remains in the Boscombe area in August 2023 as well as further discoveries in the weeks and months afterwards.

Dorset Police received a report at 1.10pm on Saturday 26 August 2023 following the discovery by a member of the public of a package containing suspected partial human remains in the area of the Manor Steps Zig Zag, off Boscombe Overcliff Drive. The package was found to contain part of a human leg and, following further searches, another similar package was also located.

An investigation was launched by the Force’s Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) and, after detailed enquiries and scientific analysis, the victim was identified as Mr Shotton.

Enquiries by detectives identified a phone linked to Mr. Shotton as having been sold at a Cash Creators store in Boscombe on the afternoon of Friday 18 August 2023. A review of CCTV footage from the store showed Pereira and Atkins, who were living together at an address in Aylesbury Road where Mr Shotton had been staying, entering the store and selling the phone.

Officers attended the defendants’ flat on the evening of Friday 1 September 2023 and both were arrested. During searches of the rear garden further human remains – this time the victim’s arms – were found. Neighbours also reported seeing Atkins appearing to be burning items in the garden in the days leading up to his arrest.

A further report was received at around 10.45am on Wednesday 6 September 2023 that more human remains had been found in a black suitcase in the area of Boscombe Chine Gardens, near Boscombe Pier.

The suitcase was found to contain a human torso, which was again confirmed through analysis to belong to Mr Shotton.

A post-mortem examination of the arms and torso revealed a number of small puncture wounds to the victim’s back as well as slash type injuries to his wrists and hands that appeared to be defensive wounds caused by trying to fend off someone wielding a knife.

The post-mortem also indicated the limbs and head had been removed from the torso apparently after death and extensive blood staining uncovered by forensics teams in the defendants’ flat at Aylesbury Road suggested the dismembering had taken place at the address.

Following disclosure made to his legal team by Atkins at a court hearing prior to trial, information was passed to police and searches were carried out in the Walpole Lane area in Boscombe from Wednesday 28 February 2024 and search teams recovered a number of bone fragments, which were found to be from a human skull.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Third, of MCIT, said: “Our thoughts are very much with the family of Mr Shotton, who have suffered the unspeakable trauma of not only losing their loved one, but living with the knowledge that his body has been dismembered and attempts made to conceal the remains.

“This has been an extremely complex investigation, first to identify the victim and then to compile evidence to establish the involvement of the defendants in this case. I want to thank all those involved for their tireless efforts to ensure we were able to secure justice for Mr Shotton’s family.

“I also want to thank the Crown Prosecution Service for its support in bringing this case to trial and securing the convictions of these defendants.”

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