News

‘My brother-in-law murdered my sister after dark web of lies began to unravel’

When Jessica Patel’s body was found lifeless and covered in duct tape in her home, her family assumed her tragic death had been the result of a burglary gone wrong.

The house was ransacked and Jessica’s belongings were all over the floor. Her throat crushed from strangulation.

Her devastated sister Minal Patel tried to comfort her distraught husband Mitesh Patel.

“I walked straight up to him,” she says. “I sat down on the sofa next to him and went to hug him and he immediately buried his head in my shoulder.

“At that point I thought he was genuinely crying. I was literally his shoulder to lean on.”

Soon it became clear they were crocodile tears and just three days later, in May 2018, it was revealed that her murder was at the hands of then 37-year-old Mitesh.

His tangled web of lies began to unravel as it emerged he plotted to kill her as she went through IVF in the hopes of claiming a £2million life insurance payout to start a new life with his gay lover in Australia.

Even more disturbingly he planned to use Jessica’s frozen embryos to start a family together.

The story behind Jessica’s murder is being told in new documentary Countdown To Murder on 5Star at 9pm on Tuesday.

Jessica’s sister, Minal, 35, who lives in Leicester, recalls: “I was always really close with Jessica.

“Growing up, she wasn’t very loud but she was very nurturing in nature and she was definitely romantic – she loved Bollywood films and dreamed of having her own love story one day.

“Her relationship with Mitesh seemed very loving at first and they always went through the whole palava of who would put the phone down first every night.”

The couple got married in 2009. But just a few months after their wedding, Mitesh changed.

The pharmacist started neglecting his new bride, he also stopped her from seeing her dying grandfather and became increasingly secretive.

Unbeknown to Jessica, Mitesh had also been using gay dating apps and had started an affair with Dr Amit Patel.

In December 2012, Jessica’s youngest sister, Divya, even spotted messages on Mitesh’s phone of the pair declaring their love for each other.

Minal says: “Something wasn’t quite right. Jessica was voicing concerns that Mitesh was spending a lot of time on his phone and he would walk out of the room if she came in while he was on it.

“She knew it wasn’t right but he took his phone everywhere with him – even into the toilet – and she didn’t know his passcode to check who he was talking to.”

She adds: “When we told Jessica about the message from Amit, Mitesh blamed her for meddling and not trusting him.”

Jessica asked her family to back off. And, the following year, she and Mitesh moved from Leeds to Middlesborough for a fresh start and to run their own pharmacy.

In 2015 the couple even started trying for a baby through fertility treatment. Jessica went through three unsuccessful rounds of IVF and all the while Mitesh was planning to kill her and take the baby to Sydney. He even asked Amit Patel: “Would you love it like your own?”

In the documentary, Consultant Forensic Psychologist, Dr Vicky Thakordas-Desai, says: “He was prepared to take the embryos to move to Australia and set up a new life there with him. He was arrogant enough to think and feel that he could get away with that.”

Jessica’s fourth and final IVF round saw her embryos being held in a frozen storage clinic and Mitesh took the opportunity to get Jessica out of the picture.

And, on 14th May 2018, Mitesh went through with his evil plan – staging a robbery at their home, strangling Jessica and suffocating her with a Tesco Bag For Life.

He then went out and ordered a pizza before calling the emergency services.

Jessica’s family were heartbroken. And, unaware of what Mitesh had done, were keen to support him following the death of his wife. Minal adds: “He held my dad’s hand with the hands that strangled and murdered his own daughter. How could someone do that?”

But thanks to CCTV, Mitesh’s lies quickly unravelled and investigators found his iPhone Health App proved he had run around, staging the burglary while Jessica’s app stayed still.

Days later, he was arrested and in December 2018, he was given a life sentence, with a minimum of 30 years behind bars, for Jessica’s murder.

“He showed not one ounce or shred of emotion or remorse” Minal says. “The most devastating thing was when they read out a conversation between Mitesh and Amit and we learned that Mitesh had intentionally entrapped Jessica into loving him.

“He needed someone to show that was straight and leading a normal life. He was using her as a cover up for all that time. He’d ruined her.”

Now Minal is speaking out to raise awareness about coercive control and to make sure no more lives are lost.

She says: “Abuse doesn’t just have to be physical, it was all mental torture for Jessica. As a family we all knew little bits and if we had put all those bits together then we would have realised what was happening.

“If somebody might be facing this then you have a duty to speak up and say something. A hunch could be the difference between life and death.

“I hope nobody has to go through what we’ve been through. It’s been nearly three years now and the wounds don’t heal.”