17th September 2023 – (London) Elton Charles, 51, who is married to Laura, the daughter of Lord Patten and former Hong Kong governor, has been sentenced to five years in prison for his role as a getaway driver in a horrifying shooting incident at an Indian restaurant. The plot, orchestrated by his half-brother Nathaniel St Aimie, aimed to terrorize the owners of the PBK restaurant in Greenford, west London. Charles, along with his co-conspirators Nicholas Grant, 46, and Lee Morgan, 42, were also sentenced to five years each at Kingston Crown Court.
The chilling incident took place on September 6 last year when Morgan, from Leybourne, Kent, supplied the weapon used in the attack. As diners, including children, screamed in fear, a shotgun blast shattered the restaurant’s window, showering the dining room with glass. CCTV footage presented during the trial showed a hooded gunman leaving a white Volkswagen van, driven by Charles, and opening fire on the establishment at approximately 9.30pm.
Charles, Grant, and Morgan were found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence after a six-week trial, during which the jury deliberated for seven hours. St Aimie, the mastermind behind the shooting, admitted to the same charge and received a prison sentence of six years and three months.
Although no customers were physically harmed, Judge Jonathan Davies expressed his sympathy after witnessing parents shielding their children from the barrage of bullets. The guilty verdicts were met with gasps from the defendants’ families in the public gallery, and Laura Patten, Lord Patten’s daughter, sobbed, burying her head in her hands.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Davies emphasized the significant roles played by all involved, particularly St Aimie, whom he identified as the organizer and primary instigator of the shooting. However, the motive behind the attack and the identity of those who recruited Charles remain unknown.
Addressing Charles directly, the judge dismissed claims that his involvement was a last-minute decision, highlighting the extensive planning involved in the offence. Despite considering personal mitigating factors, such as Charles’ successful business and happy family life, the judge noted that his actions had torn apart his previously stable domestic situation. The judge concluded by stating that Charles had made a conscious choice to participate in the crime.
Laura Patten, known for her high-profile arrival in Hong Kong in 1992 alongside her sisters Kate and Alice, has maintained a low profile since then. Despite media scrutiny at the start of her relationship with Charles, their marriage has endured for 21 years, and they have three children together. Laura, a Pilates instructor, and Charles, who works in construction management, lead a middle-class life centred around their children’s activities.
The conviction of Elton Charles has undoubtedly disrupted their lives. However, according to a family friend, Laura’s dedication to Charles, whom she has loved for three decades since their teenage years, remains steadfast. The friend remarked that she will continue to stand by him, regardless of the circumstances.
Charles’ background differs significantly from Laura’s privileged upbringing. Raised by his West Indian mother alongside six half-siblings, Charles had a modest upbringing in North-West London. In contrast, Laura, the daughter of a prominent Conservative MP, enjoyed a comfortable life in the affluent suburb of Barnes. Despite these differences, their love story has endured, and they first met when Laura was 17 and Charles was 20.
Their paths converged when Laura’s father was appointed Governor of Hong Kong, and she met Charles at a party. Although initially reluctant to move to Hong Kong, Laura’s short stay in the colony made her a media sensation. The couple’s relationship has weathered various challenges, and they have built a life centred around their family and middle-class values.