Two convicted for Indian-origin woman’s murder

May 29th, 2010 - 10:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 29 (IANS) Two Britons have been convicted for the murder of an Indian-origin woman, with the judge terming it a “premeditated, calculated and ruthless crime”.
The Nottingham Crown Court Friday sentenced solicitor John Cort, 54, to at least 29 years, while his hired killer Brian Farrell, 37, was sentenced to life in prison, for the murder of Vina Patel, Cort’s colleague in a law firm.

Patel, 51, was killed by Farrell, who was hired by Cort after he had swindled over 650,000 pounds from the firm’s accounts. Cort needed over 1.5 million pounds to pay off his debts.

Her husband Surendra Patel and the couple’s daughter Anisha found Vina’s body at the foot of the staircase at law firm Cort and Co. in Blackbird Road, Leicester, in January 2009.

“This was a premeditated, calculated and ruthless crime,” Justice Linda Dobbs was quoted as saying by mirror.co.uk.

“You deprived the family and friends of Vina Patel of a cherished person,” the judge told the accused.

Vina Patel had been Cort’s friend and business partner for many years.

“That you, Mr Cort, were able to have murdered a close friend of 30 years, erstwhile lover of 20 years and partner prepared to help you with your divorce, reveals your true character. You are a controlling person who will stop at nothing to achieve your aims. You were the driving force behind the murder,” BBC quoted Dobbs as saying.

The trial had “almost collapsed” after a jury member was found passing notes to a “mystery man”, police said.

The unnamed jury member was found asking a police officer to pass a note, in which she had written her phone number, to a man standing across the courtroom. The man was later identified as police officer Ivor Messiah who was involved in the investigations.

The woman juror claimed the “mystery man” was making signals to her across the courtroom, Leicestershire Police said.

A police officer reported to the court that the woman had tried to pass a note to him meant for Messiah. This prompted four days of legal discussion, which ultimately led to the woman juror to be removed, and the jury reduced from 12 to just 10, and the trial continued.

Justice Dobbs had said police could start investigations involving looking at the note the juror had written and examining CCTV of the court building, but could not interview any members of the jury until the end of the trial.

“This matter was brought to the judge’s attention during the trial and as a result two jury members were dismissed. The trial continued and resulted in a successful conviction,” temporary deputy chief constable Gordon Fraser was quoted as saying.

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