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
news
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Sport
video
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?