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Port Harcourt serial killer, Gracious David-West sentenced to death by hanging

By Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt) and Daniel Anazia (Lagos)
10 October 2020   |   3:55 am
A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced a serial killer, Gracious David-West to death by hanging for murdering over nine women in different hotels in the state and in Lagos State.

Suspected serial killer Gracious David West (C) being led to the courtroom by security at the High Court in Port Harcout, Rivers State, on November 18, 2019. – The trial of suspected serial killer Gracious David West who has pleaded guilty to a series of killings, all women, has began in a Port Harcourt High Court in southern Nigeria. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced a serial killer, Gracious David-West to death by hanging for murdering over nine women in different hotels in the state and in Lagos State.

The convict, who was charged with 10 counts of murder and attempted murder, perpetrated the crime between July 30 and September 19, 2019, before he was arrested in a hotel in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state while attempting to kill another lady.

The convict lured his victims to hotels and strangled them to death after sex. The Guardian had reported that David-West used white cloth to tie the hands and legs of his victims, increased the television set to the highest volume and then strangled them before carting away their valuables.

Delivering judgment in the matter, Justice Adolphus Enebeli said David-West should be hanged on his neck until he is dead, insisting that the prosecution was able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts with the evidence brought before the court.

Justice Enebeli, who relied on voluntary statement and confession of the convict as well as the CCTV footage, which was tendered and displayed as evidence during trial to arrive at his judgment, said the evidence proved that David-West was guilty of the crime.

The Judge, however, discharged and acquitted the second defendant, Nimi ThankGod, who was accused of dumping the remains of one of the victims of the serial killer in a dustbin, saying the prosecution was unable to prove that the second defendant actually committed the crime.

Throughout the trial, nobody turned up in court for David-West or for the victims. It was also learnt that no one turned up at the morgue to claim the bodies of the women strangled to death by the convict.

Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, the lead state prosecuting counsel, Chidi Ekeh, said the judgment would serve as a deterrent to other persons with such intensions of crime, adding that the second defendant was let go because it was difficult to prove to the court that he committed the crime.

“With respect to the second defendant, she escaped by the whiskers, not that the offence with which she was charged was not committed. But it was difficult to determine who exactly did it as the witnesses who would have ordinarily provided that answer suddenly disappeared from the state until date,” he said.

Counsel to the convict, Vincent Chukwu, said that if given the opportunity by his client, he would try the judgment at the higher court.

On his part, counsel to the second defendant, Lezina Amegua, expressed happiness over the judgment, which exonerated his client.

David-West, a 26-year old from Buguma Local Government Area of Rivers State, was to be arraigned on October 22, 2019 but the absence of his lawyer, Vincent Chukwu, frustrated his arraignment. When the case was called up the following day, October 23, he pleaded guilty to nine murder charges against him and not guilty to the charge of attempted murder of the victim who survived his attack.

On Friday, January 18, this year, the convict, who is now at the mercy of the hangman, appeared in court with Salvation Ministries’ ‘5 nights of glory’ tag. The trial was however stalled due to the absence of his counsel.

Prior to the trial, David-West was dragged to mortuaries to identify the bodies of seven of his victims. When the case was called up again on Friday, January 24, his counsel was absent in court, a development the trial judge frowned on but said he would not withdraw from the case. Investigations had revealed that David-West had a tough childhood in a polygamous home. He and his mother lived separately from the rest of the family.