St Albans murderer who spent 23 years on the run sentenced to life in prison

Justin Clarke. Picture: Herts police

Justin Clarke. Picture: Herts police - Credit: Archant

A murderer wanted by police for 23 years has been given a life prison sentence today.

Paul Milburn. Picture: Herts police

Paul Milburn. Picture: Herts police - Credit: Archant

Justin Clarke, 62, from Surrey, shot Paul Milburn dead with an automatic pistol in 1993 during a bogus drug deal which went wrong on Noke Lane, St Albans.

He had been trying to convince Mr Milburn, who was 43 at the time, to hand over £1,000s for blocks of wax made to look like cannabis resin - when the deal was about to be completed, Clarke sprung out from a hiding place in some bushes and made the deadly shot.

Clarke, who is also known as Martin Anthony Maher, then fled to Germany but was found 23 years later in Berlin by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit.

He was arrested in February 2016 under a European Arrest Warrant and extradited back to the UK in September of the same year.

Clake, who was found guilty yesterday of murder, conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to supply a controlled drug (Class B), refused to be present at Woolwich Crown Court or have anyone represent him legally in the trial.

Investigation leader Det Insp Justine Jenkins said: “Paul Milburn was defenceless, he didn’t have any weapon and as he attempted to flee the scene he was chased and shot at point blank range before his killer Justin Clarke went on the run to escape justice. This case proves how we will never give up on seeking justice for victims’ families no matter how long ago the offence occurred.

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“Not only did Justin Clarke do everything in his power to escape being arrested he has subsequently refused to engage in the court process.

“I am pleased he has now been sentenced for this horrendous crime and I hope this brings some form of comfort to Paul’s family, although it will never bring him back.”

Paul Milburn’s family have released a statement: “As a family we are pleased with the verdict. We never thought that Justin Clarke would ever face a trial for what he did to Paul. The many years that he has avoided the police have been a constant reminder of Paul’s death. We have been at court listening throughout the trial and we now have many questions that were unanswered, answered.

“We would like to thank the police for the hard work and efforts put in over the years. The determination to locate and arrest Justin Clarke has been very impressive and we are very grateful. The result provides justice for our family.”

Clarke will serve a minimum of 25 years in prison.

Senior crown prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) James Cable also commented on the sentencing: “Clarke evaded justice for almost 25 years and failed to engage in his trial.

“However, scientific evidence including ammunition comparison, glass fragments, fingerprints, and bloodstaining, coupled with advances in DNA profiling concluded that Clarke had been at the scene and was the man responsible for the fatal shooting in St Albans in 1993.”

He said it was due to the perseverance, hard work and dedication “demonstrates to people who commit such offences that they are never safe from justice and that our determination to ensure that justice is done remains undimmed, even years after offences are committed”.

Adding: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Milburn’s family and friends at this time.”