Blackmailer ‘murdered’ by child abusers

A BLACKMAILER was murdered and dumped in a river by the two men he was extorting money from for abusing him and behaving inappropriately with boys.

The decomposing body of Derick Tempest was found near the Berney Arms in the River Yare in Norfolk on April 14 weighed down by a heavy brake drum.

The father of three was last seen alive on October 28 when he was heading towards Hall’s Garage in Great Yarmouth’s Camden Place.

Yesterday, an inquest heard Mr Tempest, 30, was going to the garage to extract money from its owners James Hall and Andrew Ventham and was murdered there.

During October Mr Tempest had been blackmailing the garage owners after he had seen them acting inappropriately with two boys in their home in Queen’s Road.

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He had already extracted �1,800 from the pair after he told them he would go to the police about what he had seen and what they had done to him as a teenager.

The inquest at Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Tempest had told his girlfriend and close friends that Mr Hall and Mr Ventham had interfered with him when he was younger and accused one them of being “a dirty old man”.

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On November 2, five days after Mr Tempest was killed, the bodies of Mr Hall, 60, and Mr Ventham, 49, were found dead in a sealed-up Fiat which was running in their garage.

They had killed themselves from inhaling petrol fumes.

Coroner William Armstrong said although no formal police complaints had been made about the pair, there was “clear and incontrovertible evidence” they had a practice of “behaving inappropriately with young men”.

And a senior detective investigating Mr Tempest’s disappearance, Det Insp Marie James, said if Mr Hall and Mr Ventham had not killed themselves they would have been prosecuted for his murder.

The inquest was told that, before Mr Tempest disappeared, a witness had overheard the garage pair discussing how they would deal with the blackmailer.

The witness told police the men said: “We will give him a gipsy’s warning. If we get any more trouble he will be going in the river.”

Police found a suicide note in the garage, part of which read: “Sorry about this but events have conspired against us.”

One of the lines of inquiry police had followed was that a fire extinguisher was used to kill Mr Tempest in the garage, although that cannot be conclusively proved.

Because of the state of Mr Tempest’s decomposing body, it was not possible for pathologist Benjamin Swift to determine how he died. He had to be identified from his dental records.

Mr Tempest’s girlfriend of nine years Sarah Sherfield gave evidence at the inquest through a video link.

Mr Armstrong asked her: “Did he tell you that when he was a child, possibly around 13, he had been interfered with by two men [Mr Hall and Mr Ventham]?”

She replied: “Yes.”

When asked if Mr Tempest had talked to her about extorting money from Mr Hall and Mr Ventham so he would keep quiet about what he knew, Miss Sherfield said: “He did not really say too much about it.”

Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of unlawful killing into the death of Mr Tempest.

He recorded verdicts of suicide into the death of Mr Hall, who was born in Bury St Edmunds, and Mr Ventham, who was born in Norwich.

Summing up, he said: “It has been a sad, sorry and sordid story which has unfolded today.

“It is clear beyond doubt that they [Mr Hall and Mr Ventham] together brought their lives to an end.

“There is also clear evidence Mr Hall and Mr Ventham were being blackmailed by Derick Tempest.”

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