Joy Morgan murder: Cricklewood man Shohfah-El Israel jailed for a minimum 17 years for killing missing student
PUBLISHED: 15:45 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:26 06 August 2019
A Cricklewood man has been sentenced to a minimum 17 years for the murder of missing midwifery student Joy Morgan.
Shohfah-El Israel, whose birth name is Ajibola Shogbamimu, was convicted by a jury at Reading Crown Court this morning of killing Ms Morgan after spending time alone with her - against strict church rules - in December.
The 20-year-old's body has never been recovered, despite extensive police searches of hundreds of acres of land in Hertfordshire.
Passing sentence this afternoon Judge Michael Soole said: "Only you know the circumstances of your terrible deed and why you did it.
"You are evidently an intelligent man and have said nothing beyond the lies and the explanations which the jury has rejected.
"The court has heard the most moving personal statement from Joy's mother Carol Morgan, which speaks of Joy's warm, loving and caring personality and character.
"On top of all this must be the very particular and continuing distress and suffering which flows from your cruel and cowardly silence about Joy Morgan's final resting place.
"I am only too conscious that no sentence of the Court can palliate the loss and grief for Mrs Morgan and the wider family."
The court heard Israel, of Fordwych Road, lied to the police when he was arrested, saying he had dropped Ms Morgan off at her student accommodation in Hatfield after a celebratory dinner at the American-founded Israel United in Christ Church they attended in Ilford, east London, on December 26.
He later admitted he had in fact spent two nights alone with the University of Hertfordshire student in his Cricklewood flat, but claimed his lies were due to concerns about having broken church rules banning women from being alone with men other than their husbands.
After killing Ms Morgan he attempted to cover his tracks by removing her number from a church Telegram group chat, the court heard, and even kept up the pretence by going to her student house share under the guise of checking on her in the days after she apparently went missing.
A signal from Ms Morgan's phone, which has never been found, was detected in Israel's car in the Stevenage area on December 28, at which point the jury was told he was most likely "looking for somewhere to dispose of the body".
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Despite days of police searches in that area, Ms Morgan's body has not been found.
The keys to her accommodation were discovered in the footwell of his car after his arrest in February.
From the witness box he told the jury that Ms Morgan - who he denied having sex with, claiming he saw her as a daughter - had told him she wanted to leave the church.
But fellow worshippers told the court they were shocked by the idea that she might quit the church so suddenly, saying she had found the "familial love" there that she had been craving.
A video taken less than two weeks before she went missing saw her describe the church as "the best family that I've ever had".
Despite church members saying they were surprised at her apparent departure, they did not report her missing.
It was her mother Carol Morgan, who is not a member of the church, who reported her disappearance to police on February 7, six weeks after she was last seen.
In a statement read on behalf of Mrs Morgan, Carol described her daughter as "my shining light and my superstar".
Ms Morgan was described as a "natural" who would have been "an amazing midwife".
It added: "She was such a wonderful person, selfless, caring, loved by so many.
"She would always look after me when I came home after a long shift, cooking lovely home-cooked meals."
Israel, a Nigerian national who has lived in the UK for 22 years, was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 17 years.
Some 158 days spent on remand in custody will be deducted from his jail term.