Three sentenced for assisting Callum Lees killer

Two women and one man have been sentenced today (Tuesday 12 November) for assisting James Atherley who was responsible for the murder of Callum Lees in Kingshurst in August 2017.

Kelly Palmer, 41, her son Zak Palmer, 23 and Kelly Casey, 38 were charged with assisting an offender earlier this year, they all pleaded not guilty but were found guilty following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Callum was stabbed at a house party in Hopwas Grove and found collapsed in nearby Haselour Road on 6 August 2017.

James Atherley made off from the party and went on the run. He managed to evade police until he was arrested in Newcastle Upon Tyne on 30 August 2017. He was subsequently convicted of Callum’s murder in August last year and was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Kelly and Zak Palmer and Kelly Casey were all involved in helping Atherley escape. Phone records show Atherley called Zak Palmer immediately after Callum was stabbed, they assisted with getting cash, sim cards and used a hire car to take Atherley to Coventry where he stayed in a hotel.

Zak Palmer was later arrested and taken into custody, his mother, Kelly Palmer and Kelly Casey were then involved in taking Atherley from Coventry to Lincolnshire, money was transferred between the women and then withdrawn from an ATM. Mobile phone records showed that the women stayed in Lincoln for around 30 minutes before travelling back to Birmingham. It’s thought Atherley went on to travel to Newcastle.

Kelly Palmer from Letitia Avenue, Solihull, Zak Palmer from Fallowfield Avenue and Kelly Casey from Letitia Avenue were found guilty of assisting an offender following a five week trial at Birmingham Crown Court which concluded on 27 August.

Today, Zak was sentenced to two years and Kelly Palmer was sentenced to 18 months in jail. Kelly Casey has been sentenced for 18 months, suspended for two years.

Two other people also on trial for assisting an offender were found not guilty.

Detective Inspector Jim Colclough from the force’s homicide team said: “My thoughts remain with Callum’s family who’ve had to endure another legal process, which must have been really difficult for them to cope with. They’ve been extremely patient and brave throughout.

“I hope these sentences demonstrate that we will robustly pursue anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to help a murderer try and escape and not be brought to justice for his actions.

“It was an extremely painful and difficult time for Callum’s family, their actions were selfish and criminal.

“Atherley and his accomplices thought they were clever enough to evade police capture, they were wrong, and in addition to putting Atherley behind bars for a substantial time, we’ve also been able to get convictions against those who tried to help him.

“I hope these sentences provide some further closure for Callum’s family.”

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