Woman, 45, and man, 59,’were murdered over £120 drug deal’ as police offer £20,000 reward to find chief suspect seen on Tube on night of killings
- Sharon Pickles and Cliff Ashmore were both found with throats cut on Thursday
- Detectives have named Ms Pickle’s partner Lee Peacock as their prime suspect
- Manhunt underway for Peacock and police have warned public not to approach
- Neighbours claim Ms Pickles, 45, and Mr Ashmore, 59, were killed over drug row
Two people were murdered in London over an £120 drug deal, according to local residents, as CCTV of the prime suspect on the night of the killings was issued.
Convicted prostitute Sharon Pickles, 45, was found with her throat cut inside the ground-floor flat of a wheelchair-bound pensioner in Marylebone, central London, at around 9.30pm last Thursday night.
Less than five hours later, police discovered the body of 59-year-old Clinton Ashmore – known locally as ‘Cliff’ – at another flat five minutes walk away. His throat had also been cut.
Murder Squad detectives named 49-year-old Lee Peacock as their prime suspect on Friday, but he has not yet been traced.
They have now issued CCTV of Peacock at North Wembley Station on the night of the killings in a bfd to help trace him. A £20,000 reward has also been posted.
Local residents said Peacock was the long term boyfriend of drug user Ms Pickles, and that he had only recently been released from jail.
Police released CCTV of suspect Lea Peacock who they want to speak to in connection with the murders of Sharon Pickles and Cliff Ashmore who neighbours say were killed over drugs
A woman called Sarah, who grew up in the area and had met Ms Pickles on a number of occasions, said: ‘I had spoken to her a couple of times and she was always nice and quiet – a skinny little thing.
‘She took drugs, but she was trying to come off them, and she wasn’t a bad woman. Some of my close friends used to go in that flat and knew Sharon well.
‘Her boyfriend, Lee, had just got out of jail last week. They had been together for 14 years.
‘Lee wanted to buy £120 of crack off Cliff. That’s what happened. It’s all about drugs.’
Mary, a woman in her 80s who lives across the road from the flat where Ms Pickles was found dead, said: ‘I’ve lived here all my life.
Scotland Yard believes the killings of 59-year-old Clinton Ashmore (left) and 45-year-old Sharon Pickles (right) are linked but say they are keeping an open mind about the motive
‘It’s a very mixed up thing, because the young lady that was killed was looking after an elderly gentleman.
‘Then her ex-boyfriend came along. I saw him. He was standing on that corner over there and I told him not to get in any more trouble.
‘He had just got out of prison for nicking five boxes of furniture from a garage down the road.’
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘You used to see people coming by the flat to pick up drugs.
‘It’s been going on for years and everybody knows about it. She was caring for an older gentleman, called Stephen, who I have known all my life.
‘He was a nice chap, but I hadn’t seen him in a long, long time.
Police released this CCTV footage of Lee Peacock at North Wembley station (left and pictured right) and have warned the public not to approach him if spotted but to ring 999 immediately
‘I think he was just very ill and bedridden, but I can’t prove that, because I haven’t seen him.’
A special post mortem confirmed that both victims died as a result of an ‘incised wound’ to the neck. Their families have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
It has also emerged that Ms Pickles was known to police, having clocked up more than 120 convictions for prostitution offences between 1996 and 2006.
Originally from Yorkshire, she was one of two prostitutes handed an Asbo in 2006, banning her from setting foot in nearby Sussex Gardens, Paddington.
Sam Taylor, 30, who has lived for several years in Alpha House where here body was found, said: ‘I’ve been on the estate for over 15 years and so have witnessed what happened and should have been avoided.
‘She was cuckooing a disabled guy in there with her boyfriend Lee.
Detective Superintendent Luke Marks (pictured) said he would like to reassure the public that the Metropolitan Police have a dedicated team of officers who are tasked with finding Peacock
‘We tried to get Stephen out, but the council believed that they were carers or relatives.
‘About a year-and-a-half ago, we were told Lee had been sent away for a long time, but then last week my neighbour said ‘that guy who is rotten to the core is back on the scene.’
‘I emailed the council and asked ‘why is this dangerous criminal back on the scene?’
‘Whenever the police or council called, Lee claimed to be a nephew or relative.
‘They’ve been hell for everyone living here who have been terrorised by fights and people off their heads on drugs.
‘People have been threatened and windows smashed.
‘She was obviously also involved in prostitution, as that’s been reported in the past.
‘We’ve literally done everything we could over the past 15 years to avoid this. Why was she allowed to do this after she was clearly on the police’s radar for prostitution?
‘I know people who have sold their flats and done all sorts to get away from her.’
Detectives warned members of the public not to approach Peacock – and to dial 999 immediately if they see him or know of his whereabouts.
They have released CCTV footage showing him at North Wembley Station last Thursday night when the bodies were found.
Detective Superintendent Luke Marks, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: ‘I am appealing for further information about the whereabouts of 49-year-old Lee Peacock, who we need to speak to urgently about the murders of two people in Westminster.
‘I am asking anybody who sees Lee to call us immediately on 999. I would urge members of the public not to approach him, but instead to call police as soon as possible.
‘I believe Lee could have important information about the deaths of two people whose bodies were found at two properties in Westminster.’
Det Supt Marks added: ‘At this early stage we are retaining an open mind concerning motive, but we are treating these crimes as linked.
‘I know this will cause concern among the community, but I would like to reassure the public that we have a dedicated team of officers who are tasked with finding Lee.
‘We are also offering a £20,000 reward for any information leading to the conviction of the individual responsible for these murders.’
Westminster Council has been contacted for comment.
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