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UK Court Sentences Indian-Origin Man to Life for 30-Year-Old Murder


In London, Sandip Patel, a 51-year-old Indian-origin man, has been sentenced to life for the murder of Marina Koppel 30 years ago. The conviction came after new DNA techniques were applied to a single hair found at the crime scene, conclusively identifying Patel as the killer. Marina Koppel, a mother of two, was brutally stabbed over 140 times in her Westminster flat on August 8, 1994. Patel, a 21-year-old student at the time, became a suspect in 2022 when investigators found a hair strand stuck in a ring worn by Koppel.

The Old Bailey court handed down the life sentence, with Justice Cavanagh highlighting aggravating factors, including the use of a knife, sustained violence, Koppel's vulnerability, and Patel's lack of remorse. The terror and pain inflicted on Koppel were described as unimaginable, and the judge acknowledged that no sentence could compensate for the family's loss.

The breakthrough in the case occurred when sensitive DNA techniques were applied to the hair found on Koppel's ring, leading to Patel's identification as the perpetrator. The case remained unsolved for years, despite the discovery of Patel's fingerprints on a plastic shopping bag at the crime scene, as he worked in the shop where the bag originated.

Patel's arrest took place on January 19, 2023, with fingerprint experts matching his footprints to bloodstained bare footprints found at the crime scene. Additionally, a bank card stolen from Koppel's flat was used by Patel at a nearby cash point shortly after the murder.

Marina Koppel's family, already devastated by her death, faced additional sorrow as her husband passed away in 2005 without witnessing justice for his wife. Koppel was remembered as a loving mother who worked hard to support her family in Colombia, including her two children being cared for by relatives there.

The impact on Koppel's family was further highlighted by her son in a victim impact statement read in court, expressing the ongoing pain and the belief that his mother had much more life to live. The case illustrates the challenges of solving historic murders, but the successful outcome demonstrates the positive impact of forensic science and collaborative working practices in bringing a long-elusive killer to justice

Feb. 17, 2024 4:49 p.m. 2448

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