Nicholas Campbell QC has secured the conviction at Teesside Crown Court of Mitesh Patel for the murder of his wife, Jessica. The couple, both pharmacists, hailed from West Yorkshire where they had married in 2009; they had relocated to Cleveland when they were able to buy a business in the Linthorpe area of Middlesbrough. Jessica Patel was killed in the home that they had shared together, just a couple of minutes from the Roman Road Pharmacy.
The evidence obtained by the combined efforts of the Cleveland and North Yorkshire constabularies pointed firmly to the Defendant’s guilt and demolished his case that, while he was elsewhere, his wife had been the victim of a home invasion.
Damning internet activity conducted by Mitesh Patel over nearly five years leading up to the murder in May of this year included searches into various methods of murder, including the use of insulin, which may have been employed, and strangulation, which certainly was.
Further investigations into this activity revealed the Defendant to have engaged in various, brief sexual encounters with men from early on in his marriage and ultimately to his forming a close association with one man in particular with whom he hoped to spend the rest of his life – once free so to do. There was evidence that he hoped both he and the man he loved would together raise any children that might have resulted from his marriage. Both he and his wife had longed for children, and to that end they had undergone at least four courses of IVF treatment. At the time of the murder, three embryos had been produced and lay frozen at a local fertility clinic, ready for implantation.
The Defendant had taken out insurance policies on Jessica Patel’s life which would ensure that, in the event of her death and his being able to claim, he stood to benefit to the tune of two million pounds. Save for that amount, the evidence of family, friends, employees and the text messages exchanged between the couple, showed that he held his wife in very low regard indeed. In that, he was unique. Her beauty, compassion and loyalty to those near to her, including her husband, were obvious to all who knew her. It was because of this element of financial gain that the trial judge, the Hon. Mr. Justice Goss, determined that the minimum term of imprisonment that Mitesh Patel will serve to be 30 years, less time already served awaiting his trial; he will therefore not be considered for release until 2048, and that will happen only if it is judged safe so to do; then again, he will be subject to license for the rest of his life.
The media has shown considerable interest in this tale, and have focused on its more prurient aspects. Since the verdict, counsel has been approached but has declined to comment; this approach has always been his policy, unless those most directly affected by the crime have asked him so to do. For the sake of clarity, the sole issue that the twelve jurors had to determine was whether they could be sure that the Defendant was the person responsible for killing his wife. Matters such as of the role of other/s, his ongoing use of the Grindr app and what the Defendant may have chosen to do with the embryos were not relevant to that decision. The fact that this is believed to have been the first case in our criminal jurisdiction to utilise data from the Health App found on Apple smart ‘phones, designed to record its users’ activity, is of some interest, however from the forensic point of view it is hardly ground breaking. The Defendant accepted the accuracy of this data, but sought to give the interpretation of it a less sinister interpretation than that of the prosecution. This potentially rich seam of evidence therefore remains to be tested elsewhere.
Nicholas Campbell wishes to thank all those working on Operation Filey, the police operation examining the circumstances of the death of Jessica Patel, set up under the command of Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Murphy-King; Dr. Jennifer Bolton, the consultant forensic pathologist instructed by HM Senior Coroner for Cleveland to examine the body of Mrs. Patel; forensic scientists Nicola Taylor and Stephen Forth who provides key evidence concerning the duct tape used to bind her limbs and of the Tesco “bag for life” used both as a ligature and to suffocate her; the Crown Prosecution Service, his instructing solicitors; and his junior, Jolyon Perks and his pupil, Rachael Glover, for their estimable work in preparing for and presenting this case to the Court. He also wishes to pay tribute to Jessica Patel’s family, who conducted themselves with great dignity throughout the trial and, in the sentencing phase, spoke so eloquently of their loss. As well as commending the police for their work, the Judge commended the family for their conduct, going on to describe it as “laudable”.