Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Solicitor Murder Motivated by "Greed and Money"

By Ben Aulakh

A Leicester solicitor who had his business partner killed so he could claim a million pound life insurance policy has been given a 29 year sentence for murder.

John Cort, 54 of Rutland Street, Leicester was found guilty of the murder of his partner at Cort and Co Solicitors, Mrs Vina Patel,

His friend, Brian Farrell, 37, of Queensborough Terrace, London was given a 28 year sentence for carrying out the murder of Mrs Patel.

Mr Cort – Mrs Patel’s partner at the law firm – became a suspect when it was established through detailed financial investigation that his lavish lifestyle far exceeded his ability to pay for it.

It was also discovered that Cort – who claimed to Vina that he was suffering from a terminal illness – had convinced her to take out a life insurance policy.

The terms of agreement meant the surviving partner would benefit from a £1.5 million payout should the other partner die or have a critical illness.

However, despite Mr Cort having a medical examination by his GP, he underwent no further medical treatment and no evidence of terminal illness was apparent.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Redfern, who led the investigation, said, “The motive for Vina’s 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.”

“He used this money to fund his extravagant lifestyle and that of his entourage; these serious allegations are currently still being investigated.” 

Vina’s body was discovered at around 8.30pm on Thursday January 15, 2009 by family members at the bottom of the stairs at the solicitors where she worked.

They had become concerned when Mrs Patel, who was a partner in the practice, failed to keep a family commitment.

During the ensuing police investigation a post mortem examination revealed that Vina had died from a broken neck, however several unexplained injuries were also discovered.

Lawrence English, Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service 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 on the part of both, but Cort in particular.

Mobile phone records between Cort and Farrell on the day of the murder proved a link between the two.

Farrell’s DNA was found on the back of Vina’s hands despite him claiming he had never met or heard of Mrs Patel.

Photograph courtesy of Leicestershire Constabulary.

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