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Rainham murder investigation: Lesley Spearing's family pay tribute while accused Jamie Burnett fails to appear in court

The family of a woman whose death sparked a murder inquiry have described her as the "kindest, gentlest person you could meet".

Police are investigating the death of 55-year-old Lesley Spearing, after being called to Oast View Terrace, Rainham, on Thursday evening.

Lesley Spearing died in her home in Oast View Terrace, Rainham, last Thursday. Pic: Kent Police (19362869)
Lesley Spearing died in her home in Oast View Terrace, Rainham, last Thursday. Pic: Kent Police (19362869)

She is believed to have had suffered a stab wound.

In a statement released today, her family said: "Lesley was the kindest, gentlest person you could ever meet. She was a loving mum and a very much-loved sister, auntie and friend.

"She was utterly selfless and always put others before herself. She wanted others to be happy.

"We as a family are devastated beyond words and we ask people respect our privacy at such a difficult time."

Her son Jamie Burnett, of Old Road, Chatham, was due in Maidstone Crown Court but failed to appear in court this morning, charged with her murder.

The 27-year-old was due to appear in person but his barrister John Fitzgerald told Judge David Griffith-Jones QC that his client had refused to leave his prison cell for the hearing.

He said: "His refusal wasn't one of aggression or being obnoxious. He was just described as being unwilling and incoherent."

He was arrested in High Street, Rainham, last Thursday.

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