East Finchley shooting: Fifth murder trial finds man guilty

image sourceMetropolitan Police
image captionObina Ezeoke denied murdering Annie Besala Ekofo and Bervil Kalikaka-Ekofo

A man who faced an unprecedented five trials over four years for the shooting of a mother-of-nine and her nephew has been found guilty of murder.

Annie Ekofo, 53, and Bervil Ekofo, 21, were killed in their home in East Finchley, north London, in 2016.

Obina Ezeoke first went on trial in 2017 but it collapsed, while juries in two more failed to reach verdicts and the other was halted by coronavirus.

At his fifth trial, the 28-year-old was found guilty of two counts of murder.

An Old Bailey jury convicted Ezeoke by a majority of 11 to one after deliberating for 41 hours over eight days.

image sourceMet Police
image captionThe defendant was found guilty of two counts of murder after a fifth trial

The court heard Ezeoke, of Cambridge Heath, had "crept noiselessly" into Mrs Ekofo's home on 15 September 2016 just after dawn.

He then shot her 21-year-old nephew, who happened to be staying there that night, while he slept and killed Ms Ekofo in the hall when she went to investigate what had happened.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said the 28-year-old drug dealer had gone to kill one of the teenage boys in the family as "part of a vendetta of violence".

"His hate was such that he did not falter when confronted by a second person - he simply took her life as well," he said.

The key evidence centred around firearms residue found in Ezeoke's car, which was used in the getaway, and on his top recovered from a female friend's home.

Ezeoke, who denied murder, told successive trials he had an alibi for the time of the shootings and suggested the gunshot residue in the vehicle must have been from a previous shooting.

image sourcePA
image captionEzeoke crept into Ms Ekofo's house just before dawn to carry out the killings, the court heard

When the fourth trial was halted, the defendant's lawyer James Scobie QC claimed the case should not go to a fifth trial, saying it "would be oppressive" and "enough is enough".

But Mr Heywood successfully argued the "public interest" in a case "of this exceptional kind and such gravity".

Sally-Anne Russell, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Ezeoke's actions "have devastated a family".

"He went to the flat to carry out a revenge attack... When he couldn't find the person he was looking for, he murdered a young man and a mother-of-nine instead," she added.

Ezeoke will be sentenced on 1 October.

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