‘Stuff of nightmares’ killer who hacked woman to death with hunting knife jailed

A killer who hacked a woman he did not know to death with a hunting knife and tried to murder another has been jailed for at least 41 years.

James Sinclair, 31, picked Shadika Patel, 40, at random when she was on her way to deliver a suitcase full of food to her teenage sons during lockdown.

Her harrowing screams were recorded on a CCTV camera as Sinclair slashed her across the head and shoulders with a hunting knife.

Surgeons battled to save her but Ms Patel was pronounced dead at hospital later that night.

The following night he attacked sex worker Beverley Barzey who went down an alleyway with the killer, and she was lucky to survive after he attacked her with the machete, inflicting at least 12 stab wounds.

Sinclair was given a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 41 years in jail before he can be considered for parole.

He did not attend his trial or his sentencing, having refused to attend court today even after the judge wrote him a letter.

The Recorder of London, Judge Mark Lucraft, QC, said: ‘Both of these women were out on their own late at night and were both brutally attacked by you.’

Of Ms Patel’s murder, the judge said: “Although the attack took place out of the video coverage of cameras [it] records what can only be described as a chilling audio of the attack.

“You were looking to find a lone female to attack. She was alone, late at night on deserted streets and was chosen by you for those reasons.

“This was a savage and sustained attack. It is clear that a significant degree of pain and suffering was caused to Shadika before her death.”

Turning to the attack on Ms Barzey, Judge Lucraft added: “The two of you went to a dark alley.

“You produced a large knifeā€¦and attacked her with it. Once again you left her for dead.”

The judge also commended the couple who shouted at Sinclair as he was attacking his second victim.

“They called out and they then went out and she received very prompt medical treatment.

“Had Sinclair not been disturbed I am very confident that we would have had two deaths rather than one.”

Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones, QC, insisted that Sinclair did not ‘stumble across’ opportunities to commit these attacks.

“He sought out opportunities to commit these offences and he found them and he took them.”

During the trial, Mr Emlyn Jones told the jury: “What we are concerned in this case with is, I’m afraid, the stuff of nightmares.”

On the day of the murder, Boris Johnson had advised against all non-essential travel ahead of start of the national lockdown a week later.

As a result the streets of London were ‘unusually quiet’, the court heard.

Sinclair was looking for a woman on her own and when he saw Ms Patel from a bus he got off to attack her.

“At a little past half past midnight, she was approached on foot by a man and that man was the defendant,” said Mr Emlyn Jones.

“There is good quality CCTV covering the location, and the defendant and Ms Patel can be seen to engage in what looks like a brief and slightly awkward conversation.

“They then separated. But the defendant did not leave. Instead, he ducked out of Shadika Patel’s view, behind a wall, where he can be seen on the CCTV to put a glove on his right hand.

“He then emerged and ran after Ms Patel. He caught up with her just out of the field of view of the camera, but there is a microphone on that camera which recorded the audio of what happened next.

“What happened was that the defendant stabbed Shadika Patel seven times, before running away.

“He stabbed her in the face and in the head and in the shoulders. Both of her lungs were punctured.”

Ms Patel’s screams were overheard by residents in the area and one of them made a 999 call.

Emergency services arrived to find her in ‘critical condition’ and she was taken to Newham General Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 1:44am.

Ms Patel’s family collectively made an impact statement about their loss which was read out in court today.

They said: ‘As a family we have been completely devastated in hearing the harrowing details of Shadika’s final moments.

‘No mother should have to visit their child’s grave and no sibling should have to bury their sister before their time.’

The court heard how Ms Patel has left behind two boys.

‘Shadika wanted to provide for her sons and any further precious time with her sons has been stolen.

‘They will now have to grow up without their mother’s love.’

The family say they are always thinking about what they could have done to prevent her tragic death.

‘We will do our best to ensure her sons receive the care and love provided to them by Shadika.

‘Her memory will be preserved by good deeds and kind acts as this would have made her happy.

‘Time will move forward and Shadika will live on in our hearts and minds.’

Sinclair went home after the attack on Ms Patel and the next night he was on the street again, armed with a machete.

“Ms Barzey was prepared to accompany the defendant to a secluded location in order to engage, she thought, in sexual activity with him in return for money,” the prosecutor said.

“But that is not what he wanted and that is not what happened. The two of them went together into a dark alleyway, and when they got there the defendant drew a large knife.

“Miss Barzey describes it as being like a machete. And he attacked her with it, stabbing her repeatedly, like Ms Patel, to the face and mainly to the upper body.

“In her case one of her lungs, her left lung, was punctured and collapsed.

“And the defendant left her there for dead, ran away, and went home.”

When he learned the police were after him, Sinclair booked a flight to Rio, but was arrested before he could get to the airport.

Ms Patel’s blood was found in the pocket of his puffer jacket and Ms Barzey’s blood on one of his trainers.

Sinclair was living in a hostel room in Three Colt Street, Poplar, east London, provided by ‘Look Ahead’, a mental health charity.

He denied murder and attempted murder, but did not give evidence and offered no real defence.

The jury took just 40 minutes to convict him of both charges.

Gillian Jones, QC, defending, said she accepted much of what prosecutors say.

She added that psychiatrists agree Sinclair has ‘some mental issue’ which can be linked to his offending.

‘All experts do concur that there is a mental illness.’

Samantha Yelland, from the CPS, said: ‘These were opportunistic, unprovoked and vicious attacks on two women while they were alone and in the dark.

‘James Sinclair targeted his victims leaving them both for dead in the street. Shadika Patel was a concerned mother who had packed a bag of food to take to her children ahead of the national lockdown. She was brutally murdered before she even got on the bus.”