UPDATE: Life in prison for 2001 Hastings murder

Pictured is Mark Searle, sentenced to life in prison, and Steve McNicol, given four and a half years
Pictured is Mark Searle, sentenced to life in prison, and Steve McNicol, given four and a half years

A St Leonards man found guilty of murdering Jason Martin-Smith in Hastings in 2001 was sentenced to life imprisonment at Lewes Crown Court today (Friday, August 21).

Mark Searle, 36, of Chambers Road, St Leonards, had denied killing Mr Martin-Smith on August 22 as well as conspiracy to kidnap, and perverting the course of justice.

A jury found him guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two.

They also returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of conspiracy to kidnap, and found him guilty by a 10 to two majority of perverting the course of justice.

Steve McNicol, 42, of Whitefriars Road, who was charged with conspiracy to kidnap Mr Martin-Smith, was found guilty by a majority verdict of 11 to one.

McNicol was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment.

McNicol had originally been charged with the murder of Mr Martin-Smith but this charge was discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service at the start of the trial.

Officers from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team made the arrests on February 25 this year, which related to the homicide investigations of Jason Martin-Smith and Jimmy Millen who were both murdered in Hastings in 2001.

It was during the investigation into Mr Millen’s murder that information relating to the murder of Mr Martin-Smith came to light. The 28-year-old, an acquaintance of Mr Millen, had disappeared in August 2001 in Hastings and was believed to have been abducted and murdered. His body has never been found.

Detective chief inspector Paul Rymarz from the major crime team said: “This has been a long and complex investigation into the murders which happened 14 years ago.

“Nevertheless these verdicts today show that we have worked tirelessly to bring those responsible for the death of Mr Martin-Smith to justice.

“Our thoughts are with his family who have waited a long time for this result.

“The trial began on Monday 20 July. The jury retired to consider their verdicts on Wednesday 12 August and clearly considered the evidence in this complex case in great detail for more than 30 hours.”


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