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Sunday 25 September 2016

Man jailed for 23 years for murdering single mother in 'frenzy of rage'

Helen William

Published 21/07/2016 | 13:58

Usha Patel Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
Usha Patel Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

A man who murdered a vulnerable single mother whom he met on an online dating site has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Miles Donnelly, 35, strangled Usha Patel, 44, after she had put her five-year-old autistic son to bed at her home in Cricklewood, north-west London.

He then left the little boy alone to discover her body, the Old Bailey heard.

The couple had arranged to have sex on the evening of October 7 last year, having met online around seven months earlier.

They had both stripped naked when Donnelly attacked her in a drunken rage, stabbing her 13 times with a large bread knife, beating her ferociously about the head and strangling her.

Having murdered Ms Patel, Donnelly fled to the west London home of Rosie Ferrigno, 43, whom he barely knew, where he hid from police for 30 hours.

Miles Donnelly Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
Miles Donnelly Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

He made advances towards her and said he was sexually frustratrated. He hit her on the back of the head with a stool with a nail sticking out of it when she refused.

Donnelly, of Paddington, west London, who lived a lifestyle of drinking and taking drugs and had a long criminal history, had denied murder and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

But he pleaded guilty to the charges on the first day of his trial.

Judge Rebecca Poulet QC gave Donnelly a life sentence with a 23-year minimum term for Ms Patel's murder. He was also given an 18-month concurrent sentence for the assault on Ms Ferrigno.

The judge said Donnelly had murdered Ms Patel in a "frenzy of rage" in "a particularly ferocious and violent attack".

She told him: "In my assessment, this case is a stark warning to anyone who plans to meet anyone after limited internet contact."

She warned people not to invite a stranger into their home, saying a face-to-face meeting should only take place once "one person feels they know something of the other".

The judge said: "Usha Patel invited this defendant to come into her flat ... She was clearly anxious to meet a new partner. She paid for this invitation with her life.

"She was, in my judgment, an extremely vulnerable woman ... both in her background and in the immediate moments leading to her death, when she was heavily intoxicated.

"Your brutal attack on this woman must have been terrifying for her."

Read more: Man admits murdering woman he met on dating website in 'drunken rage'

A manhunt for Donnelly was launched after police found his house keys inside Ms Patel's home and matched forensic samples on a wine glass.

Donnelly was arrested on October 11 last year after he phoned police and told them where he was.

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC described Ms Patel, who allowed Donnelly into her home on the same day they swapped texts saying "I love you", as "the picture of a very vulnerable woman".

In contrast, Donnelly would have known he was a "significant and serious danger to women" when he was "driven by compulsions to drink, take cocaine and have sex".

Mr Denison said of Donnelly's brutal attack on Ms Patel: "As she was dying, or even just after she had died, he stabbed her a number of times in the stomach."

Donnelly then made off "in a hurry", leaving his underpants, socks, T-shirt, hoodie and keys behind - all items which linked him to the crime.

Ms Patel was found dead the next day when her father arrived to take the five-year-old child to school. The little boy told his grandfather: "Mummy's not well."

Her battered body was discovered on the sofa amid drink bottles and glasses. She had been dead for some hours.

Mr Denison said: "She was lying on her back under a duvet cover that covered her from her neck down.

"There was a trickle of blood running from her nostril down her cheek. He tried to wake her but there was no response and she was cold. She had no pulse."

The court was told that Ms Patel's son still has nightmares and keeps saying he hopes Mummy will come home soon.

Ms Patel's father was too distraught to attend the sentencing hearing.

Press Association

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