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Thirty-year-old blood footprint identifies accused prostitute killer, court told

The trial was opened at the Old Bailey (Ian Nicholson/PA)
The trial was opened at the Old Bailey (Ian Nicholson/PA)

A bloody footprint and hair stuck to a ring have been used to identify the accused killer of a prostitute almost 30 years ago, a court has heard.

Colombian-born 39-year-old Marina Koppel was found dead by her husband David on August 8 1994, after being stabbed more than 140 times during a “sustained and savage” attack in her home in Chiltern Street in Marylebone, central London.

Sandip Patel, 51, was charged with her murder in March last year, after police matched his foot to a bloody print left by the sole of a bare foot on a skirting board in the room where Ms Koppel was murdered.

Marina Koppel
Marina Koppel was found dead by her husband David after being stabbed more than 140 times during a ‘savage’ attack at her flat in central London (Family Handout/PA)

Patel became a confirmed suspect in 2022, after his DNA matched to a hair found by a scientist in 2008 on a ring which had been on Ms Koppel’s finger.

Prosecutor William Emlyn Jones KC, opening a trial at the Old Bailey, said: “Marina Koppel was brutally murdered.

“It has taken a terribly long time to solve it, but we now have evidence that she had this defendant’s hair stuck to the ring she was wearing when she was attacked and killed; and his bare foot was pressed against the skirting board next to her.

“And that, the prosecution say, can only be because it was him who killed her all those years ago.”

Ms Koppel, who had two children in Colombia, rented the flat in London because she worked as a masseuse and a sex worker, the court heard.

Her husband, who lived in Northampton, “did not necessarily approve” of her work but “accepted it”, jurors were told.

Mr Koppel drove to the capital because his wife was not answering her telephone, finding her body shortly before 11.30pm on the floor of a bedroom where she took clients.

Jurors heard there was blood “everywhere”.

An unbranded plastic carrier bag found by police in Ms Koppel’s kitchen had fingermarks belonging to Patel, then a 21-year-old student, whose father ran a nearby shop, the court was told.

However, officers believed the evidence was not strong enough, as Patel’s fingermarks could have been on the plastic bag because he handled it in his father’s shop and it was possibly brought into the flat by Ms Koppel.

Despite the discovery of the hair during a review of the unsolved case in 2008, technology was not advanced enough for scientists to get a DNA profile, so it was bagged and preserved until 2022, when it was looked at again.

The bloody footprint was found at the scene in 1994 and matched to Patel after he was made a suspect, the prosecutor said.

Mr Emlyn Jones went on: “You may have little trouble concluding that if those footprints were made in Marina’s wet blood, then that can only be because they were left by her killer – someone who was in that room, barefoot, at the time of her blood being on the skirting board.

“All these years later, they have been identified – they are the defendant’s prints – they were made by the sole of his left foot.”

The court was also told Ms Koppel’s bank card was stolen after she was murdered and used a “few streets away” from Patel’s home at the time.

Mr Koppel died in 2005, never discovering who murdered his wife.

Patel denies murder and the trial continues.