Emmanuel Odunlami, a Nigerian-born music manager, was stabbed to death by robbers in the United Kingdom over what is thought to be a fake designer watch worth up to £300,000.
The Old Bailey, England and Wales’ premier criminal court, recently heard that Odunlami was ambushed by three robbers after having a birthday party.
According to the Daily Mail, the 32-year-old music manager was attacked on May 1, 2022, after leaving Haz eatery near St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Odunlami’s assailants were allegedly tipped off by security operator Kavindu Hettiarachchi 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 afterparty 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.
After the event, Hettiarachchi was seen on CCTV calling Louis Vandrose, who is suspected of being one of the robbers, according to Old Bailey.
Vandrose and Jordell Menzies were then driven by Quincy Ffrench in a white Mercedes with altered number plates from north-west London, jurors were told.
“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 found nearby had been scientifically linked to the victim and Menzies.
Menzies, whose DNA was found on the assault knife, has been charged with murder alongside Ffrench and Vandrose, while Hettiarachchi has been accused with robbery and manslaughter.
While the trial progresses, the defendants have rejected the charges leveled against them. The trial is expected to last between four and five weeks.