Man stabbed former associate to death in London flat then held his mother captive after sham marriage scam row

A man has been found guilty of stabbing another man to death and holding his mother captive after falling out over a sham marriage scam.

Jurick Croes repeatedly stabbed Riches Obi, 25, in the chest at his home near Elephant and Castle, southeast London, in November 2020.

His mother, Bernadette Ortet, was found bound with cable ties in a bedroom at the home.

Prosecutors say she was involved in a sham marriages scam.

At the time she was a case worker for a firm of solicitors specializing in immigration and nationality.

Following a two-month trial at the Old Bailey, Croes, 38, of no fixed address, was found guilty of murder and false imprisonment.

Raichell Felomina, 40, of no fixed address, and Suvenca Martis, 34, of Forest Hill, southeast London, were convicted of false imprisonment but acquitted over the killing.

Martis was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice, after a jury deliberated for 37 hours.

Police had been called to a stabbing at a property in Harper Road, and arrived to find the front door partially open and Mr Obi collapsed with stab and slash wounds to his chest in the blood-stained hall.

The court heard an officer called out to see whether anyone else was in the flat, before hearing a woman’s voice replying: “I’m here.”

Ms Ortet was then found in a bedroom with her wrists and ankles bound with cable ties and a scarf around her neck, which appeared to have fallen from her mouth after having been used to gag her.

The room was heavily stained with blood, on the bed, door and furniture, up the walls and on the ceiling, the jury heard.

Despite efforts to save Mr Obi, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

An examination of the flat revealed Mr Obi’s bedroom appeared to have been searched and a roll of duct tape was under a chair.

One of the defendants, Martis, was captured on CCTV at a hardware store in Camberwell, south London, buying cable ties and black tape.

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight KC had told jurors: “The background to these offenses seems to lie in a sham marriage scheme in which all three of these defendants and Bernadette Ortet were engaged.

“It seems likely that these defendants had become angry about the remuneration they were receiving for their part in the scheme and went to Bernadette Ortet’s flat on 17 November determined to demand and obtain money from her.”

After the guilty verdicts, the defendants were remanded into custody to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 2 July.

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