British police arrested two black men last night near the home of soul singer Joss Stone on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and rob the singer.
Officers detained the men, aged 30 and 33, in Cullompton, southwest England, at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) Tuesday near the star’s isolated country home and reportedly found them in possession of swords, rope and a body bag.
They also had detailed maps and aerial photos of the 24-year-old British singer’s rural property. The suspects had travelled from the Manchester area 200 miles away.
The alleged plan is believed to have been foiled by neighbours who called the police after spotting two men driving slowly and suspiciously in a red Fiat Pinto around remote country lanes in Cullompton, East Devon, where Joss lives.
“Police attended an address in Cullompton yesterday morning after alert residents notified officers about a suspicious-looking vehicle,” said a local police spokesman.
“Officers attended the area at around 10:00 am and subsequently arrested the occupants of a red Fiat Punto.”
Stone, among the five top-earning female UK singing stars, has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide and has worked with music legends such as Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder and the late US soul superstar James Brown. She is also the fifth wealthiest British and Irish pop star aged under 30 with an estimated personal fortune of £9 million.
Joss, who is close pals with Prince William and was at his wedding to Kate Middleton on April 29, was not at home yesterday.
Det Insp Steve Parker said: “The men had information and items that lead us to suspect they may have intended to commit a criminal offence.”
They remain in police custody at a police station in Exeter on Wednesday. Up to 20 detectives from the major crime unit are now working on the case
They are being questioned by detectives having been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause the singer serious harm, potentially murder.
Police originally held the pair on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grevious bodily harm with intent but overnight upgraded that to conspiracy to rob and murder.
“The pair were brought in on Tuesday morning and are in the cells,” said a source close to the investigation.
“They are being quizzed about a plot to cause Joss Stone really serious harm.
“They have their solicitors with them but the police want to know what lies behind this.”
The source added: “The police want to know if this alleged conspiracy is about her money and fame or just some kind of resentment over her success.
“But this will make her feel very vulnerable living on the outskirts of a quiet and isolated village in Devon when she isn’t touring around the world.
“She is due to go on tour next month with gigs in Europe.”
They added: “It looks like they were going to do her really nasty harm if they didn’t get what they wanted.”
As well as staying at her home in east Devon, her mother runs a popular music haunt called Mama Stones nightspot in Exeter.
A local farmer said: “Anyone driving slowly around these small lanes would stand out but two black men in a car would stand out even more because you don’t see many black men in the sticks out here.”
Thank God the murder plot was foiled by the alert neighbors. Joss happens to be one of my favorite singers. Enjoy her rendition of “Right To Be Wrong”.