Men plotted to cut off the head of soul singer Joss Stone, court told
Pair who branded singer a 'she devil' were found near her home with a samurai sword, court told
Two men armed with weapons including a samurai sword and equipped with body bags and gaffer tape were arrested as they plotted to rob and murder the soul singer Joss Stone, a British jury was told.
The pair drove from Manchester to Devon, where Stone lives, but were spotted by concerned neighbours who called the police.
When officers searched the men's car and home they found a note describing Stone as a "she-devil in flesh" and others suggesting that they had considered decapitating her and finding a river in which to dump her body.
The notes also made references to Stone's connections to the monarchy - royals have attended her concerts and she was invited to Prince William's wedding.
Simon Morgan, prosecuting, said the men - Kevin Liverpool, 35, and Junior Bradshaw, 32 - may have targeted Stone for financial reasons or even because they disliked her royal links.
But he added: "Their motive may never be clearly established. We may never know."
Morgan told the jury at Exeter Crown Court on Monday that Stone - real name Jocelyn Eve Stoker - was an "extremely successful" singer and songwriter.
In 2008 she moved to a house in a village a few kilometres from Culmstock in Devon and was home at the time of the men's arrest. Morgan said Liverpool and Bradshaw, along with others who have not been traced, had decided to find Stone, rob her and kill her.
According to the prosecution, Liverpool used a computer at his local library to research various artists before fastening on Stone.
Morgan said the men had printouts of maps showing Stone's house and wrote about her home in notes.
Two weeks before they were arrested they made a reconnaissance trip to the village where Stone lived, it was claimed.
In June 2011 the men allegedly armed themselves with the sword along with hammers, a metal spike and a knife. They were also equipped with balaclavas, gloves, body bags, duct tape, maps and a roll of plastic bags.
Morgan said: "The crown says that with this arsenal of weapons, it is obvious they were intent upon serious violence. The intended target was Joss Stone."
Yet the gruesome plan descended into farce. On their way to Stone's village, the men crashed their red Fiat Punto when they tried to drive off without paying for petrol.
Police attended and cited Bradshaw for driving without insurance. The officers considered the car disabled and so left the scene without searching the car.
The would-be killers set off again in their badly damaged car but got lost, asking a postman for directions to Stone's house, without success.
As they drove around, they were spotted by three women who thought the occupants were "agitated and behaving abnormally" and phoned the police.
A patrol car followed the Fiat, then stopped it, at which point the weapons and equipment were found.
When the men's flat in Longsight, Manchester, was searched, police also discovered a pistol and notes that included the message: "Joscelyn [sic] Stoker ... RIP for ever".
Another read: "I don't kill just for dollars, only for good cause or reason". One mentioned decapitation and another read: "Once Jocelyn's dead ... find a river to dump her."
Morgan said one note also described the Queen as a "she-devil" and added: "But she likes Joss Stone. Invited to Will's wedding by Queen. Where's the sense in that?"
The men deny conspiring to murder Stone and also plead not guilty to conspiring to cause her grievous bodily harm or rob her. The trial continues.