Man jailed for at least 31 years for murder of music manager in watch robbery

A man has been jailed for at least 31 years for murdering a music manager over a fake watch.

Jordell Menzies has been jailed for fatally stabbing 32-year-old Emmanuel Odunlami, who was set up by a member of security at an exclusive £1,400-a-table event to celebrate the victim’s birthday in London.

During the trial at the Old Bailey, jurors were told security guard Kavindu Hettiarachchi saw Mr Odunlami wearing a fake Patek Philippe Nautilus watch with diamond engraving which, if genuine, would be worth around £125,000.

Hettiarachchi, 31, was part of a gang of robbers who attacked Mr Odunlami after he left the Haz restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London on May 1, 2022.

Menzies, 27, of Tennyson Road, Brent, stabbed the victim before the robbers made off in a Mercedes car with the watch.

In December, Menzies was found guilty of murder and robbery.

Emmanuel Odunlami death court case

Jordell Menzies was jailed for fatally stabbing Emmanuel Odunlami (City of London Police/PA).

Earlier last year, co-defendants Louis Vandrose, 28, and Quincy Ffrench, 28, were found guilty of the lesser offense of manslaughter, as well as robbery.

Vandrose, of Thornton Heath, and Ffrench, of Tottenham, were sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge Patrick Field KC on Monday evening at the Old Bailey.

Hettiarachchi, from Harrow, was also convicted by the jury earlier of manslaughter and robbery and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

In his sentencing comments, Judge Field told Menzies: “This was a carefully planned and sophisticated offense in which you played a major part.”

He said it was Menzies who led the attack on Mr Odunlami, “sneaking at him knife in hand, stabbing him in the heart as he retreated”.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Odunlami’s fiance Rajbir Kaur said she was “loved, loved and respected” by her two young children.

Ms Kaur added: “It was such a pleasure to see Emmanuel and our children together. I will never be in that life experience again.

“Emmanuel was killed before he could see his son in school uniform.”

Ms Kaur added: “He lost his life for something he was passionate about. People should be allowed to spend what they earn through hard work.

She said of the defendants: “They’re not sorry, they’re sorry they got caught.

“What sickens most of us is the lack of remorse from that security guard – whose primary concern for society is to protect members of the public.”

Mr Odunlami’s mother, Christiana Odunlami, said in her victim impact statement that her son “loved watches and fashion”, adding that his father “used to sell watches”.

Ms Odunlami, who cried as she read her statement, said: “I feel that what happened is still punishing our family. I still carry the pain and have lost my purpose in life.

“My heart goes out to him every day. I feel like my body is dead, only my heart is ticking.”

Miss Odunlami added: “The effect of coming to court every day and seeing my son’s killers has left a lasting scar on me.

“Losing a child is permanent damage, and this has dealt me ​​a life-threatening blow.

“My son will never come back but justice must be served, not only for him, but for his family, his children and all those who have lost a loved one at the hands of knife crime.”

Addressing the defendants in court, Ms Odunlami said: “I could not see in your eyes any emptiness and no remorse.”

Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels of the City of London Police’s Major Crime Squad said: “Our thoughts are with Emmanuel’s family and friends who have been devastated by the death of a young man out celebrating his birthday.

“Those responsible for this callous and coordinated murder have been given long custodial sentences. I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to bring these men to justice.”

Hettiarachchi’s colleague, Antonios Kfoury, 23, was earlier found guilty of perverting the course of justice and later received an 18-month custodial sentence.

Emmanuel Odunlami death court caseEmmanuel Odunlami death court case

Kavindu Hettiarachchi, who was found guilty of robbery and murder, was sentenced at the Old Bailey (City of London Police/PA)

Kfoury, of Twyford West, provided a false statement to police – deliberately omitting Hettiarachchi by advising there were only four security members on duty when in fact there were five.

At Menzies’ retrial, prosecutor William Emlyn Jones KC told jurors that the watch worn by the victim, if genuine, would be worth around £125,000.

But he told jurors: “The grim and tragic irony of all this is that there is good reason to think that the Patek Philippe watch was not even genuine.

“The defendant – although he did not know it at the time – killed Emmanuel Odunlami for a fake watch.”

The watch was never recovered.

The court was told how the victim, known to friends as Jay, worked in the music industry managing a number of performing artists.

On the day of his death, he drove to the City in the back of a Mercedes hatchback.

As well as the fake designer watch, he was wearing a Dior jacket and carrying a Goyard bag and others had Rolex watches, jurors were told.

As the party drew to a close around 11pm, Hettiarachchi was caught on camera filming his target outside Haz’s bar and calling Vandrose in a phone call.

After Mr Odunlami left the restaurant with a friend, Menzies, Ffrench and Vandrose ran towards him, the court heard.

Menzies tried to trip Mr Odunlami twice before stabbing him in the heart with a lock knife, causing him to fall backwards against a parked car.

During the attack, Ffrench bent down and took Mr Odunlami’s watch and was heard on CCTV saying “he got it”.

The defendants then ran away, leaving the victim with a fatal chest wound.

A knife was recovered nearby and linked through scientific analysis to the victim and Menzies.

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