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

A man has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 31 years for murdering a music manager for a fake designer watch.

Jordell Menzies was jailed for fatally stabbing Emmanuel Odunlami, 32, 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 that security guard Kavindu Hettiarachchi had spotted Mr Odunlami wearing a fake Patek Philippe Nautilus watch with diamond encrusting which, if real, would be worth around £125,000.

Hettiarachchi, 31, then tipped off a team of robbers who attacked Mr Odunlami after he left 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 offence 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 afternoon at the Old Bailey.

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

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

He said Menzies had led the assault on Mr Odunlami, “sprinting towards him knife in hand, stabbing him in the heart as he backed away”.

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

Ms Kaur added: “My happiness was seeing Emmanuel and our children together. I will never in this life experience that again.

“Emmanuel was murdered before he got to see his son in school uniform.”

Ms Kaur added: “He lost his life over something he had a passion for. People should be allowed to wear freely what they earn with hard work.

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

“What sickens most of us is the lack of remorse from the said security guard – whose primary responsibility to 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 out her statement, said: “I feel that what happened is still punishing our family. I’m still carrying the pain and have lost my purpose in life.

“My heart aches for him every day. I feel that my body is dead, just my heart is ticking.”

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

“Losing a child is permanent damage, and this has dealt me a lifetime blow.

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

Addressing the defendants in court, Ms Odunlami said: “All I could see in your eyes was emptiness and no remorse.”

Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels from the City of London Police Major Crime Team 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 co-ordinated murder have rightly been sentenced to long custodial sentences. I would like to thank everyone who has 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 subsequently received an 18-month custodial sentence.

Emmanuel Odunlami death court case
Kavindu Hettiarachchi, who was found guilty of robbery and manslaughter, was sentenced at the Old Bailey (City of London Police/PA)

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

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

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

“The defendant – although of course he wasn’t to know that at the time – had killed Emmanuel Odunlami for a fake watch.”

The watch has never been 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 had driven to the City in his grey hatchback Mercedes.

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

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

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

Menzies twice tried to trip Mr Odunlami 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 to say “got it”.

The defendants then ran off, leaving the victim with a fatal stab wound to the chest.

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

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