Man who murdered woman and nephew in flat given 40-year minimum jail term

A “cowardly” man convicted of murdering a mother of nine and her nephew in their own home has been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 40 years in prison.

Drug dealer Obina Ezeoke, 28, killed Annie Ekofo, 53, and psychology student Bervil Ekofo, 21, in a flat in East Finchley, north London, on September 15 2016.

After an unprecedented five trials over four years, he was convicted of the double murder in September.

The first trial in 2017 collapsed after the then trial judge suffered a bad back midway through, and two subsequent juries failed to reach verdicts in 2018 and 2019, despite a majority direction.

Annie Ekofo and her nephew Bervil Ekofo
Annie Ekofo and her nephew Bervil Ekofo

The fourth trial was abandoned due to the coronavirus lockdown just as the jury was deliberating in March.

The fifth jury to try the case deliberated for 41 hours over eight days to find Ezeoke, of Cambridge Heath, east London, guilty of two counts of murder.

On Thursday, Ezeoke remained expressionless as he was handed the 40-year minimum term.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice Cutts said: “Whatever the motive, you murdered two entirely innocent people.

“Your cold, callous and brutal murders of two people has not only cut short their lives but ruined the lives of many.”

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told previously jurors that Ezeoke had crept into Mrs Ekofo’s home just after dawn and shot her sleeping nephew, who happened to be staying at the time.

Jurors were told Ezeoke had gone to the flat with the intent to kill one of the residents as “part of a vendetta of violence”.

When Ezeoke came across Mr Ekofo, he shot the student at point blank range, the court heard.

At the noise, Mrs Ekofo went into the hall.

Rather than waving his revolver to scare her off, the killer pulled the trigger for a second time.

In a statement, Osman Jeanefey, the husband of Mrs Ekofo, said: “I think about Annie every day, I can’t believe she is gone. Sometimes I feel I will go mad and the image of her dying on the floor is always in my head.

“I hope that our lives will be better and God will give me the strength to stop crying. There is so much sadness in our house now.”

Ezeoke had denied any involvement in the murders and told successive juries that he had an alibi for the time of the shootings.