Five face prison after stabbing London man to death to steal 'designer' watch

Patek Philippe Nautilus watch worn by victim turned out to be fake but would, if genuine, have been worth £125,000

Antonios Kfoury, left, and Jordell Menzies are among the five facing jail terms over the killing of Emmanuel Odunlami. PA
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A group of robbers is facing years in prison after killing a man in central London because he was wearing a watch they mistakenly thought was designer.

A member of the security team at a high-end City of London restaurant set up Emmanuel Odunlami, 32, who was celebrating his birthday with friends at an exclusive £1,400 ($1,782) a table event.

Kavindu Hettiarachichi had spotted that Mr Odunlami was wearing a Patek Philippe Nautilus watch which, if real, was worth between £90,000 and £300,000, jurors were told.

Hettiarachichi then tipped off a team of robbers who attacked Mr Odunlami after he left Haz restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London on May 1 last year.

One of the robbers, Jordell Menzies, 27, stabbed the victim before they made off in a Mercedes car with the watch.

At his retrial, prosecutor William Emlyn Jones KC told jurors the Patek Philippe Nautilus watch worn by the victim would, if genuine, have been worth about £125,000.

“The grim and tragic irony of all this is that there is a good reason to think that the Patek Philippe watch wasn’t even genuine." he added.

“The defendant – although of course he wasn’t to know that at the time – had killed Emmanuel Odunlami for a fake watch.”

On Tuesday, Menzies was found guilty of murder.

Menzies – along with co-accused Louis Vandrose and Quincy Ffrench, both 28 – had admitted robbery but denied murder.

Earlier this year, Vandrose and Ffrench were found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter, to which Menzies had admitted.

Hettiarachichi, 31, had admitted to theft and was convicted by a previous jury of robbery and manslaughter.

His colleague Antonios Kfoury, 22, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

The verdicts can now be reported at the conclusion of Menzies’ retrial because legal restrictions were lifted.

The court was told how the victim, known to friends as Jay, worked in the music industry managing a number of performing artists.

On the day of his death, he had driven to the City in his grey hatchback Mercedes.

As well as the fake designer watch, he was wearing a Dior jacket and carried a Goyard bag while others in his company wore Rolex watches, jurors were told.

As the party drew to a close about 11pm, Hettiarachichi was caught on camera filming his target outside Haz bar and summoning Vandrose in a phone call.

After Mr Odunlami left the restaurant with a friend, the robbers ran at him.

Mr Odunlami was on the ground and the three offenders kicked him as he lay defenceless.

During the attack, Ffrench bent down and took Mr Odunlami’s watch and was heard to say “got it”.

The attackers then ran off, leaving the victim with a fatal stab wound to the chest.

A flick knife was recovered nearby and linked by scientific analysis to the victim and Menzies.

Afterwards, the killers travelled to Bloomsbury where they changed their clothes before parting company.

Hettiarachichi, who was employed as an operator for Supreme Security, had fake versions of high-value watches at his home, suggesting an interest in and knowledge of expensive timepieces.

He had been hired by the events organiser Playhxuse for the private ticketed brunch and afterparty with a DJ.

Couple pulled to the ground and robbed of rare Rolex watch in London - video

Couple pulled to the ground and robbed of rare Rolex watch in London

Couple pulled to the ground and robbed of rare Rolex watch in London

After the killing, Kfoury tried to obscure his role in the security arrangement for the event at Haz and made a false statement to the police.

Ffrench, of Tottenham; Menzies, of Brent; Vandrose, of Islington; Hettiarachichi, of Harrow; and Kfoury, of Ealing, had denied the charges alleged against them by the prosecution.

Following Menzies’ conviction, Judge Patrick Field KC remanded him in custody to be sentenced at a later date.

Speaking outside of court, Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels, from the City of London Police major crime team, said: “This was a callous and co-ordinated murder of a young man that has left his children without a father and devastated his family and friends.

“Emmanuel should have been able to celebrate his birthday without fear of being attacked because of the watch he wore on his wrist.

“If you carry a knife and murder a man who was running away, it is not a mugging gone wrong, it is murder and we will do our utmost to bring you to justice.

“What makes this crime even more startling is that a man employed to protect people on a night out as a security guard, was looking for victims for his accomplices to attack and rob.

“Emmanuel’s family have now seen all the men responsible for his death brought to justice but I know their loss will be with them forever and our thoughts remain with them," DCI Michaels added.

Crimes such as these are rare in the City but should they occur we will use our powers and the professionalism of our officers to pursue those responsible and remove them from our streets.”

Updated: December 19, 2023, 7:00 PM