THE family of a North-East teenager who was tied to a tree, doused in petrol and then burned alive said last night they hope his killers “rot in hell”.

Simon Everitt, originally from Escomb, County Durham, was heard to mutter a prayer as he was led to the scene of his death.

The 17-year-old was assaulted, taken to a forest and tied to a tree, where he had petrol poured on him and in his throat.

He was then set on fire and managed to stagger a short distance after the rope burned through – before he died.

A woman and two men were yesterday convicted of Simon’s murder.

Maria Chandler, 40, Jimi- Lee Stewart, 25, and Jonathan Clarke, 20, killed the student in a re-enactment of a scene from a spoof horror movie.

The jury of 11 returned guilty verdicts at Norwich Crown Court after more than 21 hours of deliberation following a four-week trial.

Last night, Simon’s grandmother, Ruth Atkinson, who lives in Shildon, County Durham, said: “This is a good result. I hope they get life for what they did to Simon and I hope they rot in hell.”

Mrs Atkinson, who looks after Simon’s younger brother, Daniel, and cared for the engineering student until he moved to Great Yarmouth, aged 14, added: “It has been such a stressful time for us.

“I can still see what happened to him in my sleep. I just can’t get it out of my brain, and this is how we have all been feeling.”

Simon’s father, Vince Everitt, was last night celebrating the verdict at the family home in Great Yarmouth.

He said: “It has been a very hard day for us.

“What they did to him was horrific, it was stupid and it just beggars belief.

“They needed help beforehand, not afterward. They now need to sit and reflect on what they have done.

“After a jury finds you guilty of murder it has to be life.”

Mr Everitt has written a statement that will be read by the judge before the killers are sentenced on June 26.

He said: “I heard the verdict today, as I was at home and I cried my eyes out and I prayed to God that Simon was looking down on me, saying ‘it’s okay Dad, we’ve got them’.

“We had him for such a short time and he was such a good kid.

“I would like to thank all the family that supported us through what we have been through. We love them and miss them.”

The court heard that Simon was tied to a tree in woodland in Mautby, Norfolk, and then set on fire.

His body was found on June 28 last year – about three weeks after he was last seen.

Jurors were told the murder replicated a scene from the film Severance.

Chandler and Stewart, both of Great Yarmouth, and Clarke, of Telford, Shropshire, were each found guilty of murder.

Karim Khalil, prosecuting, said the case was a demonstration of “grotesque brutality”.

Clarke, Stewart and Simon had been involved in a tangled love affair with Fiona Statham, 19.

Chandler, a close friend of Ms Statham, fell out with Simon during his on-off relationship with Ms Statham.

Each of the three defendants had threatened to harm Simon and Clarke had been charged with assaulting him shortly before the murder.

Clarke had watched the film Severance about a year before Simon was killed, it emerged during the trial. When he watched the DVD, he had said: “Wouldn’t it be wicked if you could actually do that to someone in real life?”

Mr Khalal revealed that Simon said a prayer as he was being led to his death.

One of his killers, Stewart, later recalled how he had been “asking God and Jesus to save him”.

The prosecutor said it must have been clear to Simon, even at this point, that he was going to die.

Stewart claimed he had only intended to scare Simon, while Chandler said she was forced to go along with the plot. Both painted Clarke as the prime mover.

Clarke claimed he was not involved at all. “If I’d have done it, I’d have cut off a finger or a toe and dismembered him bit by bit,” he said.

Why I simply had to turn in my killer son to police

THE mother of one of the murderers last night told how she turned in her killer son to police.

Susan Lewis, 46, of Great Yarmouth, called detectives after Jimi-Lee Stewart confessed to being involved in the murder of Simon Everitt.

Mr Everitt, a 17-year-old engineering student, was tied to a tree, forced to drink petrol and then set on fire in woodland in Mautby, Great Yarmouth, in June last year.

Mrs Lewis, who was praised by detectives for coming forward, said: ‘‘I was devastated that I had to call, but there was no way that I wasn’t going to.

“He told me exactly what happened and it had to be reported.

‘‘My Jimi couldn’t fight his way of a paper bag, so when he was talking about being involved in a murder, I couldn’t believe it.”

Twice-married Mrs Lewis, who has three children by three fathers, said she was shocked at the brutality of the crime.

‘‘It’s totally awful,’’ she said.

‘‘My reaction was shock, horror and disgust.”

Stewart started to go off the rails as a teenager following the death in a car crash of his drug-using father, James Stewart, 32.

She said Stewart began his offending at the age of 15 and spent numerous periods behind bars from then on.

‘‘It has got to be at least twice a year that he went to jail. I think they said in court once that he had 30 driving offences.

But then, at the time, I thought that at least he would be safe in there,” she said.

Despite reporting her son to police, Mrs Lewis said Stewart had accepted her decision.

‘‘The first day he was arrested, he said ‘See you later mum’, and gave me a kiss,” she said. ‘‘When he came out the next night on bail, I said to him that I was sorry.

‘‘He said, ‘No problems, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for’. He knew I would tell.”