A Nigerian-born music manager identified as Emmanuel Odunlami has been stabbed to death by robbers in the UK over what is believed to be a fake designer watch worth up to £300,000.
The Old Bailey, which is the central criminal court of England and Wales, recently heard that Odunlami was ambushed by three robbers after holding a party to celebrate his birthday.
According to Daily Mail, the 32-year-old music manager was attacked after leaving Haz restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 1, 2022.
Odunlami’s attackers were said to have been tipped off by Kavindu Hettiarachchi, a security operator, that he was wearing a Patek Philippe Nautilus watch.
During the court session, Duncan Atkinson KC, the prosecutor, said it is believed that the watch “may have not been genuine”.
He added that the robbers, however, treated the item as though it was genuine.
“Sadly, as it was to turn out, he liked expensive brand watches. At the time when he was fatally attacked, he was wearing a Patek Philippe Nautilus watch,” the prosecutor said.
“If real, such a watch could be worth anything in a range from £90,000 to £300,000.
“It is believed the deceased’s watch may not have been genuine, but was treated as genuine by those who sought to take it.”
Atkinson said Hettiarachchi was “an integral member of the security team”.
The court heard that Hettiarachchi was hired by the events organiser for the private ticketed brunch and after party with DJ.
“It was part of his role to protect the safety of those, like Mr Odunlami, who were attending the event. In fact he did the opposite,” he said.
Old Bailey heard that after the event, Hettiarachchi was seen on CCTV calling Louis Vandrose, who is believed to be one of the robbers.
The jurors were told that Vandrose and Jordell Menzies were then driven by Quincy Ffrench in a white Mercedes with altered number plates from north-west London.
“The evidence shows that Ffrench, Vandrose and Menzies were setting off in car with a disguised registration in order to carry out a robbery and that their target for that robbery was at the Haz restaurant where Hettiarachchi was working, and to which by phone he had summoned them,” the prosecutor said.
The security operator was said to have filmed the victim and his “high-value” watch and then appeared to type something into his phone.
“The prosecution case is that he was making those other defendants aware of Mr Odunlami and his watch, in order that they could rob him of that apparently very valuable item,” Atkinson said.
“In common sense, those planning the robbery of Mr Odunlami of what appeared to be a very valuable watch would not have expected him just to surrender.
“Rather, he needed to be compelled to do so, and to that end one of those travelling in Mr Ffench’s Mercedes was armed with a knife.
“When they were ready, the defendants, Ffrench, Vandrose, and Menzies got out of the car and ran towards Mr Odunlami.
“On seeing the robbers closing in on him, Mr Odunlami tried to run, but he was caught by Menzies and then taken to the ground by the combination of Menzies and by Vandrose.
“Once Mr Odunlami was on the ground, all three defendants attacked him, shod feet were used as weapons to kick the defenceless man on the ground.
“During the course of that attack, one of the robbers, identifiable as Ffrench, bent down and took the object of this exercise, Mr Odunlami’s Patek Phillippe Nautilus watch. As he did so he was heard to say ‘got it’.”
The trio were said to have fled the scene, leaving Odunlami on the floor with a knife wound to the chest.
“It appears from the CCTV that he was stabbed before any demand was made of him, or any other form of attempt to take his watch from him,” the prosecutor said.
The jurors were told that a knife was recovered nearby and linked by scientific analysis to the victim and Menzies.
Menzies, whose DNA was on the attack knife, is charged with murder along with Ffrench and Vandrose while Hettiarachchi is charged with being involved in the robbery and manslaughter.
The defendants have denied the charges against them as the trial continues. The proceeding is estimated to last between four and five weeks.