A hair trapped in a murdered sex worker’s ring which identified her alleged killer nearly 30 years later could have been left behind when he was one of her clients, a court heard.
Marina Koppel, 39, was found dead by her husband in her flat in Chiltern Street, Marylebone, on 8 August 1994.
The mother of two, who worked as a masseuse and sex worker, was still in her lacy underwear and had been stabbed 140 times.
The crime went unsolved until a cold case review in 2022 when the hair was matched to Sandip Patel, who was 21 years old at the time of the murder.
Marina Koppel, 39, was found dead by her husband in her flat in Chiltern Street, Marylebone, on 8 August 1994. She worked as a masseuse and sex worker, was still in her lacy underwear and had been stabbed 140 times
Patel, now 51, was then matched to a bloody bare footprint on the skirting board in the room where Ms Koppel was murdered.
He worked at his father’s convenience store ‘Sherlock Holmes News’ near to the murder scene at York Mansions near Baker Street in central London.
In his closing speech to the jury, Patel’s barrister David Sheridan suggested Patel was one of many clients who saw Ms Koppel in the two weeks before her killing but the jury could not be sure he was the murderer.
Patel has chosen not to give evidence.
The crime went unsolved until a cold case review in 2022 when the hair was matched to Sandip Patel, who was 21 years old at the time of the murder
Mr Sheridan said: ‘This is a horrific murder. It doesn’t really get anymore serious or in some ways more revolting than what we’ve seen.
‘Even the injury mapping, designed not to be too gruesome, is gruesome.
‘We all have a natural inclination in those circumstances, when faced with such a ghastly crime, we want someone to pay.
‘But you don’t decide this case because of feelings of revulsion or emotion – you decide it on the events.’
He said both experts had agreed the key evidence, a blood stained footprint, may not have been blood and may simply have had the appearance of blood.
Mr Sheridan said the two hairs in the ring and fingerprints left on a bag only show that Patel was in the flat at some point, not that he was the killer.
He said the hair found was in two different colours and one of them could be a pubic hair.
‘All they do is establish presence in the flat at some point – but not at the time of the murder.
‘Marina Koppel we know was a sex worker and so the nature of her work was she interacted with many different men- her husband estimated approximately 100 regular clients.’
He said 84 individual’s DNA had been identified in the flat.
‘That flat is full of evidence of the attendance of unknown males whether that is marks, finger prints, DNA, semen, condoms.’
He said it was a ‘sustained’ ‘frenzied’ attack and Patel would have no reason to have such ‘rage, hatred and anger’ for Ms Koppel.
Her said her clients included doctors, bank managers and a priest.
In his closing speech, prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones said: ‘You do not have to decide why he did this.
‘It is human nature to wonder why anyone would behave in this dreadful way.
‘You don’t know why he did it, and it is not for you to resolve.
‘Sometimes a case really is straightforward because the evidence really is one way, and sometimes a guilty defendant simply doesn’t want to face up to what they have done and plead guilty whatever the strength of the evidence against them.
‘So a defendant pleads not guilty, stays silent at the back and takes their chances with the jury.’
He suggested Patel would not have been able to afford being a night with Ms Koppel.
‘How would be able to afford a sex worker like Marina Koppel? He was living with his father, only 21.
‘Her husband told us she charged £80, and some of you may remember how much £80 was.
‘It doesn’t sound like he would have fit the profile of her target demographic who seem to have been well-to-do, well-off older men able to afford her services.
‘This is a formidably strong case against him anyway – and you are permitted to add to that strength by saying he hasn’t given evidence and that is because he doesn’t have an answer to the case, or not a good one anyway..’
Patel, of Finchley Road, St John’s Wood, northwest London, denies murder and the trial continues.