Obina Ezeoke: 28-year-old jailed for 40 years for murdering woman and nephew

1 October 2020, 14:43

Obina Ezeoke will serve at least 40 years in prison for the double murder
Obina Ezeoke will serve at least 40 years in prison for the double murder. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

A 28-year-old man has been jailed for a minimum of 40 years for murdering a mother of nine and her nephew at home in north London.

Obina Ezeoke was convicted in September after an unprecedented five trials in four years for shooting dead 53-year-old Annie Ekofo and her 21-year-old nephew, psychology student Bervil Ekofo.

He remained expressionless as he was handed the minimum term on Thursday, of which he has already served 1,472 days - or four years and 11 days.

It comes after years of bumps in the case that resulted in trials being postponed for an extended amount of time.

The first, in 2017, was paused after the then judge suffered a bad back midway through, while juries in subsequent trials in 2018 and 2019 did not reach a verdict, despite a majority direction.

In March, the fourth trial collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic - and it wasn't until after 41 hours over eight days in September that the fifth jury found Ezeoke guilty of double murder.

Bervil Ekofo (right) was shot at point blank range while he slept, and Annie Ekofo (left) was shot when she came to investigate the noise
Bervil Ekofo (right) was shot at point blank range while he slept, and Annie Ekofo (left) was shot when she came to investigate the noise. Picture: PA

Ezeoke, of Cambridge Heath, is said to have let himself into the victim's house in East Finchley in September 2016, when he shot a sleeping Bervil in the head "at point blank range".

His aunt, Annie, walked into the room after hearing the noise and was then shot dead herself.

"Whatever the motive, you murdered two entirely innocent people," Justice Cutts said as she handed down the sentence on Thursday, comparing the killings to an "execution".

"Your cold, callous and brutal murders of two people has not only cut short their lives but ruined the lives of many [...]

"He was not your intended target, but was in the wrong place in the wrong time.

"You have an entrenched criminal lifestyle. Although not unintelligent, you have shunned a law-abiding life.

"Your precise motive for doing so is unclear although I have no doubt that its roots lay in your previous criminal behaviour and desire for revenge."

"You must face the consequences of your actions. Whatever those are, Bervil and Annie Ekofo cannot be brought back and their family must always live with their loss."

Ezeoke has denied any involved in the murders and has maintained that he had an alibi for the time of the shootings.

Defending, James Scobie QC noted the "unique history" of the multiple trials, and said the first murder had been planned, while the second was not.

He told the court: "Whoever did fire that gun had not intended for there to be a second fatality as part of that expedition.

"This is not the sort of case where a whole life order, which is an order of last resort reserved for the absolute top, top end of exceptionally serious criminality."

In a statement before the sentencing, Chantelle Mami, Mr Ekofo's mother, said there were no words to describe how "traumatic" it was to have a child killed.

She said: "We grow to accept that death is a part of life and we should embrace it.

"However, no-one really prepares you for burying your child whose life was taken from them by another.

"I have no more words as my heart is heavy, I just hope that justice continues to be served."

Meanwhile, Osman Jeanefey, the husband of Mrs Ekofo, said: "I think about Annie every day, I can't believe she is gone. Sometimes I feel I will go mad and the image of her dying on the floor is always in my head.

"I hope that our lives will be better and God will give me the strength to stop crying. There is so much sadness in our house now."