Life sentence for woman in 'fatal attraction' case: Divorcee recruited her 16-year-old son to murder love rival

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The Independent Online
A DIVORCEE with a 'fatal attraction and obsession' for her married driving instructor was jailed for life yesterday after being convicted of murdering her rival in love.

As she was taken to the cells at the Old Bailey, Rene Sampat shouted: 'I am not guilty of murder - I am guilty of love'.

Her 18-year-old son Roy Aziz, whom she recruited to kill Janet Marshall, was also convicted of murder. He was ordered to be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure. He was 16 at the time of the murder.

The court was told that Sampat, 37, had a passionate infatuation for Ancell Marshall, a driving instructor. But everything she tried to gain his affection failed, so 'she determined his wife should be murdered so he could be hers', Nigel Sweeney, for the prosecution, said.

Mrs Marshall, 36, a Sunday school teacher, was repeatedly stabbed and strangled at her home in north London in April 1991. Her husband was charged with the murder and held in custody for two months. He was refused permission to attend the funeral.

At his trial in February 1992, Sampat gave evidence for the prosecution, but he was cleared and a second inquiry began.

Judge Richard Lowry said yesterday: 'There should be further investigation into the first inquiry which led to an innocent man being charged with the murder of his wife.'

Graham Boal QC, for the defence, said Sampat was a 'woman who was obsessed to a point which could be described as mentally abnormal'.

He went on: 'You may think this has been realistically described as a fatal attraction and a fatal obsession.'

The court was told that the Marshalls, of Tottenham, were a happy couple who had a stable and loving relationship. Mr Marshall, 37, had two businesses - a driving school and a takeaway food shop - and was a home missionary at his Seventh Day Baptist church, acting as a counsellor.

But there was 'a shadow over them which had been there for some years - the activities of Rene, who was infatuated with Ancell. They had first met in 1985 when she was a pupil at his school,' Mr Sweeney told the court.

In her attempts to gain his affection, Sampat, a Muslim, joined the church where he worshipped, forced gifts on his children and went out of her way to impress the family.

Three times Sampat, of south Tottenham, claimed she had been raped, in an attempt to gain Mr Marshall's sympathy. She then 'took to writing poison pen letters designed to split the couple up', Mr Sweeney told the court.

One letter included a threat that Mrs Marshall would die within a year of the birth of her fourth daughter. Her death in 1991 came just a few days before the year was up.

After the case, Mr Marshall described Sampat 'a very, very evil woman'. He added: 'My feelings towards her now are that she is demonic, she is wicked. I believe she has been used greatly by the devil.'

Detective Superintendent Gavin Robertson, who led the second inquiry, said: 'I accept aspects of the first inquiry were wrong and we tried to right that wrong. We are big enough to accept that a mistake was made and to get on with setting it right.'

Mr Marshall said he was considering legal action.