A Nigerian-born music manager was stabbed to death after celebrating his birthday with a ‘designer watch’ worth up to £300,000, a London court heard.
The Old Bailey heard that Emmanuel Odunlami, 32, who was a music industry boss was attacked by three robbers after leaving the Haz restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, where he held a party to celebrate his birthday on May 1, 2022.
According to Metro on Wednesday, Odunlami was stabbed to death for a fake luxury watch after a security guard Kavindu Hettiarachchi spotted the timepiece — which cost up to £300,000 — and filmed Odunlami wearing it outside the eatery in the City of London.
One took the watch during the assault and was heard to say, “Got it”,’ said prosecutor Duncan Atkinson, KC.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Hettiarachchi has denied manslaughter while appearing in court.
The three robbers that allegedly killed Odunlami are Quincy Ffrench, 27, Jordell Menzies, 26, and Louis Vandrose, 27, who all have admitted robbery but denied murder.
Menzies, whose DNA was on the knife, admitted manslaughter.
Antonios Kfoury, 21, a colleague of Hettiarachchi, also denied perverting justice as it claimed he lied to police to cover for Hettiarachchi.
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.’
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC stated that Hettiarachchi was a vital member of the security team hired by the event’s organizer, Playhxuse, for the private ticketed brunch and afterparty with DJ.
‘It was part of his role to protect the safety of those, like Odunlami, who were attending the event. In fact, he did the opposite,’ the court was told.
The victim, known to friends as Jay, had driven to the city in his grey hatchback Mercedes on the day of his death to celebrate his birthday with friends, having purchased tickets for a £1,400 table.
As the event came to an end around 11 p.m., Hettiarachchi was caught on camera filming outside the venue and calling Louis Vandrose, according to Dailymail.
The court heard that Vandrose and Jordell Menzies were then driven by Quincy Ffrench in a white Mercedes with altered number plates from north west London.
The Prosecutor said: ‘The evidence shows that Vandrose, Menzies and Ffrench were setting off in a car with a disguised registration in order to carry out a robbery, and their target was at the Haz restaurant where Hettiarachchi was working, and to which by phone he had summoned them.’
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.