Jacqueline Barrett murder – cheers as killer Houssam Djemaa is found guilty at Old Bailey trial

Thursday, 16th June 2011

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Published: 16 June 2011
by DAVID ST GEORGE

THE almighty cheer that went up in court number 6 at the Old Bailey was   a tribute to brutally ­murdered mother-of-three Jacqueline Barrett
As her killer hung his head in the dock on Friday afternoon the family, friends and neighbours of ever-popular “Queen’s Crescent girl” Jackie shouted, clapped screamed and stamped their feet when the jury foreman returned a “guilty” verdict.
 
After months of waiting anxiously for the moment, those who loved 34-year-old Jackie let off steam in floods of tears when the jury of seven men and five women came back into court with the verdict they all had been praying for.
None more so than Jackie’s mother Angela, a well-known Camden Council caretaker. She watched as the judge, Recorder of London Peter Beaumont, sentenced electronics student Houssam Djemaa to life imprisonment with an order that he serve a minimum 15 years being able to apply for parole.
“We thought he was a gentlemen,” said Mrs Barrett. “He turned into a monster and treated my daughter, who had welcomed him into her life and home, cruelly and heartlessly. Thankfully the jury saw through his lies and now justice has been done.”
Jackie had a daughter and two sons. The youngest, Reece, now four, lived in the Crescent for many years until moving to a ground-floor flat in Anderson Court, Whitefield Avenue, Cricklewood.
 
Jackie had turned her life around after a few years in which she saw brushes with the law. When she met 23-year-old Algerian Djemaa she told everyone he was the man of her dreams and invited him to share her flat as he had been thrown out of his own home and had nowhere to go.
Djemaa had racked up a long list of criminal convictions for drugs and dishonesty. He admitted killing her – seeking a manslaughter verdict from the jury on the grounds that her behaviour provoked him into a complete loss of self-control and that he did not intend causing death.
But jurors were convinced that when he battered Jackie with a fire extinguisher and throttled her as she lay semi-naked and unconscious on her kitchen floor last December, he intended to kill.
 
After calling for silence and threatening to clear the public gallery if there were further interruptions, the judge told Djemaa: “You took the life of the woman who loved you in circumstances of extreme violence.”
He said Djemaa had no excuse – he knew that Jackie could be “difficult” when he moved in with her.
In a statement read in court, Mrs Barrett said the close-knit family – Jackie leaves two sisters and two half brothers – were “devastated” by her loss.
During the five-day case prosecutor Duncan Penny QC told jurors: “The trigger for his actions was anger, nothing more and nothing less. 
“His deliberate strangulation of her for five minutes speaks of only one intention, the intention to kill. Anger is no defence to a charge of murder.”
Jackie was a “deeply damaged and vulnerable person prone to saying things she didn’t mean” and was killed tragically and needlessly by a man who was in control of himself, added Mr Penny.
 
The court heard that when Djemaa left her dead in the early hours of December 11 and he took with him from the flat most of her valuables, including a new flat-screen TV, a laptop computer, a new Nintendo Wii – which she had saved up for to give to Reece at Christmas – and a terrier puppy, all of which he soon sold.
Djemaa also stole cash. He told an acquaintance that he planned to flee to Pakistan but changed his mind and decided to surrender himself to police. He returned to the flat and waited to be arrested. 

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