Two men convicted of the murder of a Leicester solicitor

28/05/2010

Two men have today (Friday May 28) been convicted of the murder of a Leicester solicitor. John David Cort (54) of Rutland Street, Leicester and Brian Curt Farrell (37) of Queensborough Terrace, London were both found guilty of the murder of Mrs Vina Patel

John COrtJohn Cort was sentenced to 29 years and Brian Farrell was sentenced to 28 years at Nottingham Crown Court following a 29 day trial.

Mrs Patel's body was discovered at around 8.30pm on Thursday January 15, 2009 at the bottom of the stairs at her business premises, Cort and Co Solicitors, on Blackbird Road by family members. They had become concerned when Mrs Patel, who was a partner in the practice, failed to keep a family commitment.

Police immediately launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.  A subsequent post mortem examination confirmed Mrs Patel died from a broken neck but the examination also discovered several unexplained injuries.
John Cort, the other partner in the firm, became of interest to the investigation when it was established through detailed financial investigation that his expenditure far exceeded his known income.

Brian FarrellIn November 2008, Cort persuaded Mrs Patel to take out a life insurance policy. He claimed he had a terminal illness and wanted her to be left financially secure within the business. The policy meant the surviving partner would benefit from a £1.5 million payout should the other partner die or have a critical illness. Cort had a medical examination by his GP but no further medical treatment and no evidence of terminal illness was apparent.

The investigation went on to establish links between Brian Farrell and Cort.  On the day of Mrs Patel's murder, mobile phone records proved that Cort had been in contact by phone calls or text messages with Farrell, who was subsequently found to be a close friend. Officers had evidence that Farrell had also travelled to Leicester that same day to the vicinity of Cort and Co Solicitors. This was supported by confirmation of Farrell's DNA being found on the back of Mrs Patel's hands, despite Farrell claiming never to have met or heard of her.

That evening, Cort arranged a meeting out of the office giving him an alibi, while Farrell went into the premises and murdered Mrs Patel, whom Cort knew was working late.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Redfern, who led the investigation, said: "At the time Mrs Patel's body was found, initially it looked as though her death was from a natural cause or an accident.

"However thorough scene examination supported by an expert post mortem examination revealed inconsistencies and unexplained injuries that could not be readily explained. This led us to begin what became a complex and detailed investigation, which ultimately led to identifying Cort and Farrell as the people responsible for Mrs Patel's murder.

"The motive for the murder was greed and money. When the life insurance money was put on hold pending the completion of the police investigation, Cort, still needing large sums of money, began to use the business client account to fund his extravagant lifestyle and that of his entourage. These serious allegations are currently still being investigated.

"Mrs Patel's death has had a devastating impact on her family who have shown tremendous dignity throughout a long investigation. I sincerely hope that they will be able to take some comfort from seeing justice done and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

All those involved in the investigation have worked tirelessly to bring these people to justice. The contribution made by the whole team at Leicestershire Constabulary, our colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service and Forensic Science Service was key in todays verdict and I would like pay tribute to their dedication, professionalism and determination."

Lawrence English, Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Leicestershire and Rutland, said: "This case was one of the most challenging murder cases we have had, combining as it did factors such as a deplorable level of conspiracy between the two men, greed, fraud, and frightening pre-meditation of the part of both, but Cort in particular.

"One of our specialist lawyers was assigned to this case from day one. This ensured continuity in the case preparation for trial and highly effective partnership working with our criminal justice system colleagues, both of which have contributed in no small measure to the success of this case.

"Although ploughing through the paperwork and legal complications of such a complex case has been a challenge, the result has been worth the hard work of all those involved.

"We are satisfied justice has now been done for the family of Vina Patel, who have shown tremendous courage in the face of such a tragedy. We sincerely hope this verdict will go some small way towards easing their suffering."