Devoted churchgoer jailed for murdering a student midwife
A churchgoer who killed a trainee midwife has today (Monday 5 August) been jailed for murder despite the fact that her body has still not been found.
Joy Morgan, 20, disappeared in between Christmas and New Year in 2018 after attending a Boxing Day meal at her church in Ilford.
Miss Morgan was a member of the ‘Israel United in Christ’ church where she met Shohfah-El Israel, 40, a senior member of the congregation, who ferried her to and from services with his wife.
The jury at Reading Crown Court heard how instead of driving Miss Morgan to her home in Hatfield on Boxing Day, Israel took her to his second home in Cricklewood where it is alleged she stayed until 28 December, returning to prepare food for church the following day.
The Prosecution outlined how Israel had gone to Miss Morgan’s home that evening and at some point killed her before he is thought to have abandoned her body in the Stevenage area.
Later, in an attempt to hide his actions, Israel not only joined in the search, he used Miss Morgan’s phone to remove her from the church social media messaging group so it appeared she had simply left the close-knit congregation.
Clare Tucker of the CPS said: “Israel is a calculating man who attempted to cover his tracks after he killed a young, studious woman who looked up to him as a father figure. Despite national appeals for Joy to come home, it was already too late to save her from Israel’s cruel actions.”
Today Shohfah-El Israel has been found guilty of murder at Reading Crown Court and been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 17 years.
Building the case
The prosecution built their case using phone and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) data to prove beyond doubt that the missing student was dead and that Israel had killed her.
Joy Morgan’s phone had made two calls to 111 around 7.30pm on the 28th December, and then left her church social media chat group, but the prosecution argued this was actually done by Israel when she was dead.
GPS data from Israel’s car shows he was around Joy Morgan’s house at the time of the unusual phone activity, before he drove to Stevenage and returned her phone to Hatfield more than two hours later.
When asked why he had spent so long in Stevenage, he told the police that he had taken a wrong turn and become lost.
The prosecution’s case however was that Israel had killed Joy Morgan and had in all likelihood driven her body to Stevenage.
Just after 1am the following morning, Israel was near Joy Morgan’s house and tried to phone her but it failed to connect. The prosecution argued this was an attempt to show he believed Joy Morgan was alive- even though he had killed her a few hours before.
When Israel was arrested, keys to Joy Morgan’s flat were found in his car but he denied he had them when questioned by police until officers finally showed them to him.
Clare Tucker of the CPS said: “With every step of evidence presented to Israel he has changed his story but technology has been able to prove his involvement in Joy Morgan’s tragic death. In the end, we have been able to show beyond doubt that Israel was responsible for killing this young woman, who had so much potential.”
Despite Israel’s insistence that Joy was fine when he left her, she has not been seen since Boxing Day or used her bank accounts. The laptop she left in her room, as well as the prepared food and an agenda for a class Joy Morgan was teaching on 29th December all indicate that her life was cruelly cut short.
Clare continued: “Israel’s actions have caused an immense amount of suffering and pain to Joy Morgan’s family and friends, and I hope that now he has been convicted, he finally reveals where her body is so that they can lay her to rest.”
Notes to editors
Clare Tucker is a Reviewing lawyer in the Thames and Chiltern Complex Casework Unit