Killer jailed after concealing victim's body in suitcases

Image source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Phoenix Netts lived in shared accommodation with Gareeca Gordon

A woman who murdered and concealed the remains of her former friend in two suitcases has been jailed.

Gareeca Gordon, 28, previously admitted killing Phoenix Netts, 28, at their shared accommodation in Birmingham.

Officers found a partially burned torso in one of the suitcases when they stopped Gordon in the Forest of Dean. She apologised and said: "Sorry guys, I didn't want you to see that."

Gordon must now serve a minimum term of 23 years and six months in prison.

Image source, Gloucestershire Constabulary
Image caption,
Gareeca Gordon's actions were described as calm and calculated by the investigating officers

Bristol Crown Court heard Miss Netts and Gordon were friends until Gordon wanted their relationship to become sexual, which Miss Netts had rejected.

On 7 April Miss Netts sent a text to another friend stating: "There's a girl here who keeps asking me to be sexual.

"I think I'm going to move back to London. It's scaring me lol."

Her father Mark Netts told the court in a victim impact statement: "Our lives have been irreversibly changed and the anguish is indescribable."

Her mother, Saskia, said she would be "forever devastated, forever empty".

'Help me'

Prosecutor Andrew Smith QC, said: "Both statements speak of the profound, understandable and enduring loss experienced through the loss of a much loved daughter with whom they expected to share the next chapter of her life."

Gordon stabbed Ms Netts four times on 16 April, 2020 and another woman living in the shared accommodation reported hearing shouts of "help me, help me" as well as drilling and banging noises.

During sentencing, High Court judge Mrs Justice Cutts said Miss Netts could yet have survived her injuries but Gordon "deliberately did nothing" to help.

Instead she allowed Miss Netts to die in her room, while she carried out internet searches for how to treat a punctured lung.

The court also heard Gordon made a number of trips to the Forest of Dean and attempted to burn the remains of Ms Netts in woodland there.

Police found her with two suitcases at a quarry near Coleford when they were investigating reports of a potential lockdown breach on 12 May.

Impersonation tactics

Det Ch Insp John Turner of Gloucestershire Police said Gordon came across as "cold and evasive" when she spoke to officers.

"When they tried to look in the suitcase she tried to push them away so officers thought perhaps there were drugs or stolen property in it," he said.

"When they eventually opened it they were really shocked to find a dismembered body in there," he added.

"Following her arrest and caution she said 'sorry guys, I didn't want you to see that' which is clearly a rather strange thing to say. From what we were looking at it was clear we were dealing with a very devious person.

Image caption,
Supt Scott Griffiths of West Midlands Police called the discovery of the body "absolutely horrific"

"I genuinely believe if officers hadn't found Gordon on that night we would never have found her body. From the investigation we found out she had a very devious plot to fool people into thinking that Phoenix was still alive," he continued.

Det Supt Scott Griffiths, who led the investigation for West Midlands Police, said the case had been "extremely distressing" for friends and family of the victim.

"She went to great lengths to pretend Phoenix was still alive and had moved out of the area, as well as great efforts to dispose of her body, hoping her despicable crime would go unnoticed."

Image source, Rex Features
Image caption,
Gordon was holding suitcases containing her victim's body parts when police stopped her in the Forest of Dean on 12 May

After the murder, Gordon assumed Ms Netts' identity, using her phone to contact her parents and friends to say she was well, and messaging others in the building to say she was moving away.

She also used the phone for Google searches including 'can someone recover from getting stabbed' and 'can a body burn to ashes with petrol'.

Gordon downloaded an app which enabled her to edit voice recordings of Ms Netts, sending them to her family and friends to prevent any concerns being raised, and also created a new e-mail address purporting to belong to the victim.

These actions caused further anguish to her parents who were unknowingly in direct contact with their daughter's murderer, the court heard.

Gordon pleaded guilty to the murder at a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on 21 April.

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