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British-Indian jailed for life over murder committed 30 years ago

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London, Feb 17

A 51-year-old Indian-origin man, who murdered a mother of two children 30 years ago, has been sentenced to life after new DNA techniques used on a single hair left at the scene proved he was the killer.

Sandip Patel, who stabbed 39-year-old Marina Koppel more than 140 times in a flat in Westminster on August 8, 1994, was convicted of murder and sentenced at the Old Bailey court, the BBC reported on Friday.

Patel, who was a 21-year-old student at the time of the murder, became a suspect in 2022 after investigators found a hair strand stuck in a ring worn by Koppel.

While sentencing Patel, Justice Cavanagh said “aggravating factors included the use of and attempted disposal of a knife, the gratuitous and sustained violence, the vulnerability of Koppel, and a lack of remorse”, the news outlet reported.

“The terror and pain that you inflicted on Koppel is difficult to imagine. You deprived [her] of many more years of life. No sentence that I pass can compensate the family of Mrs Koppel for their loss,” he added.

The jury deliberated for more than three hours before finding Patel guilty.

According to the Metropolitan Police, Koppel’s husband found her body unresponsive and covered in blood when he reached her Westminster flat and alerted the police.

Following a crime scene analysis, police found the ring and a plastic shopping bag that had Patel’s fingerprints on it.

“However, Patel worked in the shop where the bag had come from, so the presence of his fingerprints was not considered significant evidence, and for many years the case went unsolved,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement released on Thursday.

The needle of suspicion pointed at Patel only in 2022 when sensitive techniques available allowed for a DNA profile to be obtained from the hair on the ring.

“Unsolved historic murders can be among some of the most complex and challenging cases for police to solve. However, today’s result provides an example where forensic science, newer technologies, and collaborative working practices have had a positive impact in bringing a brutal killer to justice,” Operational Forensic Manager Dan Chester, Metropolitan Police, said.

Patel was arrested on January 19, 2023, on suspicion of Koppel’s murder after which fingerprint experts also matched his footprints to some bloodstained bare footprints that were found at the crime scene.

A bank card belonging to Koppel, stolen from her flat, was used by Patel at a cash point, just half a mile from his home, shortly after the murder.

Marina’s family members were left distraught after her death and, sadly, her husband died in 2005 before he saw her killer brought to justice, the police said.

“She (Koppel) was a loving mother and worked hard to send money home to her family in Columbia, including her two children who were being cared for by her family there,” the police statement read.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Koppel’s son said that it is not easy for him to relive the “saddest moment” of his life. “I am convinced that my mum had a lot of life to live still, it was not her time and this is very painful – it tears my very soul.”

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