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Justin Lovatt from Margate dumped dead body of friend Kevin Sampson outside flat

An ex-bartender dumped his friend’s dead body outside his flat after a drug binge instead of calling 999.

Justin Lovatt and his accomplice laid in wait for several hours before dragging Kevin Sampson’s body onto Victoria Road in Margate.

The 47-year-old was sentenced for perverting the course of justice today for the "disgraceful and unusual" crime.

Justin Lovatt
Justin Lovatt

Canterbury Crown Court heard friends Mr Sampson, Lovatt and Christopher Handley were taking a concoction of drugs at Lovatt’s Addington Road home when the scene became sinister.

Mr Sampson slumped forward in his chair when Lovatt and Mr Handley left for pizza – when they returned he was dead.

After attempting CPR the duo waited until nightfall before dragging Mr Sampson’s dead body around the corner, about one minute away, for someone else to find.

A motorist soon spotted his body and called paramedics - they pronounced him dead at the scene.

Lovatt denied any knowledge of the crime when interviewed by police, prosecutor Dickon Reid said.

But both men at a later date confessed to moving Mr Sampson’s body after being interviewed under police caution for suspected manslaughter.

Judge Catherine Brown told the former Canterbury College student his behaviour, which he claimed was down to panicking, was "inexcusable".

Judge Catherine Brown
Judge Catherine Brown

“You decided to distance yourselves from his death by dragging his body out on the street after waiting for several hours," she said.

“What you and Mr Handley did was inexcusable."

Rigor mortis had set in when paramedics attended the scene and Mr Sampson’s core temperature was 29C.

It indicated he had been deceased for several hours, the court heard.

Mr Sampson’s mother Patricia Harris told the court she "couldn’t believe anyone would stoop so low".

“When Kevin went out that day it was as normal," she said.

“The next thing I know there was two police officers at my door telling me my son had been found dead on the pavement.

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

“I could not sleep and couldn’t eat – I just wanted to die and be with him.”

She added: “I’m absolutely disgusted with how my son’s body was dragged and dropped outside the flat.

“I can’t believe anyone could stoop so low as that.”

Sat just meters from Lovatt in the dock, the family were visibly upset throughout the sentencing hearing.

The court heard Lovatt hid Mr Sampson’s personal effects from police while Mr Handley would go on to pawn his mobile phone.

Mr Handley since killed himself following the guilt he was carrying and Mr Sampson’s belongings were never recovered, the court heard.

Paramedics discovered the 44-year-old’s body at about 10pm on February 1 last year.

"You decided to distance yourselves from his death by dragging his body out on the street after waiting for several hours" - Judge Catherine Brown

He was identified as Kevin Sampson from Minster in Ramsgate as police launched an investigation.

Mr Sampson, who is believed to have died from cardiac arrest, suffered a number of broken ribs due to CPR.

Doctors also revealed a number of ribs were broken inexplicably, however, a police probe ruled out foul play.

Mitigating, Lucy Luttman said Lovatt was remorseful and "racked with guilt".

Judge Brown gave her condolences to the family and jailed Lovatt for nine months, suspended for 18 months, and placed him on a curfew.

The judge told the family: “I hope you understand the reason for my sentence.

“Even if you don’t agree with it the court system has to deal with each offender in a way that is appropriate.

“I am truly sorry for your loss.”

She explained Lovatt, who has 16 convictions for 29 offences largely linked to drugs, is a successfully recovering heroin addict.

She stated it was in the public interest to help rehabilitate him rather than impose an immediate jail term.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here

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