Five jailed for killing father-of-two at Hertfordshire home
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The five people convicted of killing a 44-year-old father-of-two at his home in Hertfordshire have been jailed for a total of 100 years.
They appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Friday 8 December, for sentencing having previously been convicted of the robbery and killing of Vishal Gohel, who was discovered unresponsive inside his second-floor flat in Bushey High Street at around 10.45pm on Sunday 23 January 2022.
Six defendants denied murder. On Wednesday 12 July 2023, a jury at St Albans Crown Court found three of them guilty of murder and two guilty of manslaughter. The sixth defendant was cleared of all charges.
This afternoon, His Honour Richard Foster, Deputy Circuit Judge, sentenced the five as follows:
• Brandon Browne, 23, of Laburnum Road, Rochester, Kent, was jailed for 15 years for manslaughter, of which he must serve two-thirds, plus eight years for conspiracy to rob to run concurrently. He had been cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob.
• Georgia Bruce-Annan, 22, of Harts Lane in Barking, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years. She was convicted of murder and had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob. She also received 10 years for conspiracy to run concurrently.
• Sakeen Gordon, 22, of Uxbridge Road, Ealing, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years. He was convicted of murder and conspiracy to rob and sentenced to 11 years for the conspiracy to rob and six months for carrying an offensive weapon to run concurrently.
• Faith Hoppie, 22, of Blake Avenue, Barking, was found not guilty of murder but convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob. She was sentenced to eight years for each offence to run concurrently and must serve two-thirds of that time in prison.
• Tevin Leslie, 23, of Hurst Street, Brixton, London, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years. He was convicted of murder. He had admitted conspiracy to rob and was sentenced to 10 years for that, to run concurrently.
Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit (MCU), said:
“I am pleased that justice has been done and these evil individuals have been convicted of this brutal killing. My thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr Gohel, who miss his presence in their lives every day. I hope the guilty verdicts give them some peace at least.”
The MCU launched an investigation when Mr Gohel’s neighbour raised the alarm. He had noticed the door ajar and, concerned, he went in and made a horrifying discovery. Mr Gohel was lying dead on the bedroom floor gagged and beaten.
A post-mortem examination revealed the shocking extent his injuries; he had been beaten, resulting in brain damage and his voice box had been fractured, consistent with being strangled. The flat had been wiped in an effort to clean the scene and his iPhone and Apple watch had been stolen.
“We quickly found evidence of a honeytrap where the women had gained access on the promise of sexual liaisons that never happened. They then let their male accomplices in to steal property,” explained DI Jenkins. “But this wasn’t just a robbery. Mr Gohel, who had visited a local cashpoint and shop earlier that night, was brutally killed.
“He must have been terrified and would undoubtedly have suffered during the brutal attack that killed him. No attempt was made to phone an ambulance.” The judge commended Mr Gohel’s aunt for reading the victim impact statement and police for the investigation.
Mr Gohel’s family paid tribute to him today and thanked officers for their investigation:
“Our beloved son Vishal was just 44 years old when he was brutally murdered. He was in the prime of his life.
“He was a father and best friend to his two wonderful boys. He was also a son, grandson, brother and friend.
“He was a wonderful father and the damage caused to his young boys by this heinous crime is indescribable.
“We are a very close and joyful family. We did everything together. Vishal was an integral part of our family. Now we have been pitched in a deep pit of grief, doubt and fear.
“No matter how many years these criminals spend in prison, nothing will make up for our loss, but we are heartened to know that our justice system works. “We hope this will be an example to other young people that crime never pays. That the only way to achieve your dreams is through hard work, diligence and perseverance just as our beloved Vishal did.
“We are immensely grateful for the incredible work of all the police departments, specifically the Major Crime Unit for all they have done. Their investigation of the crime led to swift arrests of the criminals.
“The support we have received from the police has been amazing and we could not have gone through this nightmare without their help and support at every stage. We are eternally grateful. Thank you.”