Joy Morgan trial: Cricklewood man accused of killing missing student was a fellow worshipper at her church

Joy Morgan. Photo: Herts Police

Joy Morgan. Photo: Herts Police - Credit: Archant

A student allegedly killed by a fellow worshipper from Cricklewood cried at a church event on the day she went missing, a court has heard.

Joy Morgan attended the Israel United in Christ church in Ilford, east London, on December 26, Reading Crown Court heard, and has not been seen since.

Fellow worshipper Shohfah-El Israel, 40, of Fordwych Road, denies murder.

The 20-year-old midwifery student had previously told church member Laurine Leach she was unhappy in her student house share, the court heard.

But the witness, who changed her name by deed poll to Lydia Israel, said she did not ask Ms Morgan what the cause of her upset was.

The witness, who admitted she was something of a mother figure to Ms Morgan, said: "She started to cry and I didn't want to draw any attention to her at that point because I didn't want her to be embarrassed.

"She didn't cry for long because I kind of respectfully just didn't want anybody else to see that she was crying, so I kind of dampened it down."

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Another church member, Trine Samba, known as Sister Yahzel, said Ms Morgan had seemed "really down" at the event.

She described Ms Morgan as a "serious person" and said she was surprised when it appeared she had left the church.

The student's number was removed from a church Telegram message group on December 28, two days after she was last seen.

"I was concerned because it's just not like her. She's always at the church," Sister Yahzel said.

Sister Lydia said Ms Morgan leaving the church was "unexpected" but that people had the right to do so for their own reasons.

She described Israel and his wife as being like a son and daughter to her and said she had stayed with them at their addresses in Luton and Cricklewood and they had stayed at her home in Harlesden.

She said: "I have never seen him act violently towards his wife in my presence or at any time."

Israel initially told police he dropped Ms Morgan off in Hatfield after the church event on December 26, but later told officers he had in fact brought her back to his flat in Cricklewood, where she stayed on the sofa for two nights.

He claimed he dropped her back in Hatfield on the evening of December 28 and that that was the last time he saw her, the trial has heard.

Her body has not been recovered, nor her phone, and there is no useful forensic evidence to be presented in the case, the jury has been told.

But the prosecution, describing him as a "thoroughly dishonest and manipulative man", alleges Israel killed the student and removed her from the Telegram chat to cover his tracks.

Ms Morgan was reported to police as missing by her mother on February 7 and Israel was arrested two days later.

The trial continues.

Court reporting by PA