A construction worker has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 19 years for murdering his ‘secret lover,’ Zsuzsanna Besenyei, and then carrying out an "elaborate ruse" to conceal the killing, the Royal Court has heard.
Jamie Lee Warn (55) was convicted of murder and perverting the course of justice after a week-long jury trial in the Royal Court earlier this year and appeared today before the Deputy Bailiff and a panel of nine Jurats – who only assemble as the ‘Superior Number’ to hear the most serious of cases – to be sentenced for his crimes.
Warn was convicted of killing his former colleague, hiding her in the boot of her own car for several days before dumping her body on the beach at low-tide and abandoning her vehicle elsewhere to, the Crown say, make it look as though she had committed suicide as well as lying to Police to lead their investigation astray.
Pictured: The construction worker faced sentencing for killing his former colleague Zsuzsanna Besenyei and hiding her in the boot of her own car before dumping the body.
The prosecution’s case relied heavily on telephone communications between the lovers as well as cell tower evidence which they said supported the case that Warn murdered the 37-year-old Hungarian national before her body washed up at Stinky Bay in May of last year.
At the outset of today's Court hearing, Warn – who is appealing his conviction for murdering Miss Besenyei – refused to sit down in the dock, turned his back to the Judge and Jurats and asked for the proceedings to go ahead in his absence.
After speaking with his lawyer, Advocate James Bell, Warn relented and sat down to hear from Crown Advocate Simon Thomas, appearing for the prosecution, recall evidence that was heard at the construction worker’s trial and recommend that the Court impose a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years.
Video: Jamie Lee Warn leaving Court having learned of his life sentence.
Crown Advocate Thomas reminded the Court that, despite having a “long term” girlfriend, Warn was “also in a secret relationship with his victim.” The pair had met whilst they were working together at Les Charrieres Hotel where Miss Besenyei was employed as a chambermaid, and Warn as a handyman.
The Crown Advocate made much of how Warn continued to text Miss Besenyei after he knew that she was dead in order “to give the impression she was still alive” as well as how he misrepresented their relationship when he was questioned by Police.
Although Warn initially denied he had a sexual relationship with the 37-year-old, it later transpired that the two had shared flirtatious and explicit text messages and Warn admitted that they had indeed engaged in sexual activity with one another.
The charge of murder carries with it an obligatory life sentence, but the Court had to decide the minimum term Warn must serve before he can apply to be released on parole as well as setting the punishment for the two charges of perverting the course of justice.
Pictured: The last time Miss Besenyei was captured alive on CCTV footage shopping at Sports Direct days before she died (Sports Direct/States of Jersey Police).
The Crown Advocate observed that Warn’s offending “involved deceit on a number of levels” and that his lies were “designed not only to divert attention away from him” but to arouse suspicion in Miss Besenyei’s ex-boyfriend who testified at trial.
Having made his representations to the Court, the Crown Advocate invited them to impose a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years – with a sentence of 5 years for the perverting the course of justice charges to be served simultaneously with the life sentence.
Raising Warn’s decision to appeal his conviction, Defence Advocate Bell indicated his client’s “absolute denial” of his involvement in Miss Besenyei’s death, flagging areas of the Crown’s case which the construction worker says relies heavily on “speculation and inference.”
Advocate Bell argued that the Crown’s conclusions were “too high” and that the prosecution had failed to give enough credit to his client for the amount of time he has spent in prison awaiting trial and then sentencing – which adds up to a total of 372 days – or for his “good character” and “good work history.”
The Deputy Bailiff Tim Le Cocq presided over the sentencing, sitting with Jurats Crill, Olsen, Blampied, Ramsden, Thomas, Christensen, Dulake, Austin-Vautier and Averty who, having retired to consider their decision, ultimately set a minimum term of 19 years for murder with a sentence of three years’ jail-time for the other two charges to be served simultaneously
Handing down the sentence, the Deputy Bailiff remarked that "there are some things that may never be known about the death of Miss Besenyei... how you killed her or indeed why," but, he commented that Warn's "elaborate attempt" to conceal her death and the fact that he "researched how to dispose of the body puts the matter beyond doubt."
Warn showed no reaction when he was informed of his sentence and he was escorted out of Court by custody officers to begin his life sentence.
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