Jury out again in solicitor murder trial

A jury retired today for its second day of deliberations in the case of a solicitor accused of organising the contract killing of his business partner to get a life assurance payout.

Vina Patel was found dead in her office at Cort and Co in Blackbird Road, Leicester, on January 15, 2009.

John Cort, of Rutland Street, Leicester, is accused of hiring Brian Farrell, of Queensborough Terrace, west London, to kill Mrs Patel. Both men deny murder.

During the trial at Nottingham Crown Court, which started last month, the court heard Cort had spiralled into debt, leading to a "murky financial motive" for Mrs Patel's murder.

Prosecutor Timothy Spencer said the 54-year-old, who was £171,000 in debt, persuaded Mrs Patel to increase their life assurance policy from £500,000 to £1.5 million.

He said Cort arranged for Trinidad-born Farrell, a former storeman at Harrods, to come to Leicester to carry out the killing.

Mrs Patel was found at the foot of a staircase in the offices on January 15 last year by her husband and daughter after she did not turn up to pick the latter up from work.

The 51-year-old mother-of-two had suffered a broken neck and Mr Spencer said evidence suggested she had either fallen because she was being attacked or had been attacked then her body arranged to make it look like an accident.

DNA found on her was a "billion times more likely to have come from Brian Farrell than from someone unrelated", the court heard.

Mobile phone evidence showed Farrell, 37, travelled to Leicester four days before the death in what the prosecution claim was a "dry run" for the killing.

The court heard divorcee Cort "lived a life he simply could not afford", renting a penthouse apartment in Leicester as well as two different flats in London for "girlfriends". He ate regularly in top restaurants and stayed in the capital's top hotels.

But Cort said he had been having an affair with Mrs Patel lasting 20 years.

Asked by his barrister Frances Oldham QC about his extravagant lifestyle, he said: "The sort of clients I have would not appreciate being taken to McDonald's. There's no law against going to these restaurants."

He said the first he knew of Mrs Patel's death was when he arrived at his office to be refused entry by police.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam