Steven Wright The Algebra of Justice

IS THIS A PRANK? - Fadi Nasri

When Fadi Nasri learned that his wife had been stabbed, he remarked to his friend, "Could it be a prank?" Which is ironic, because two years later, he was the subject of a murder trial in which one could reasonably ask: "Is this a prank?"

Nasri learned of the attack over the telephone while he was out playing snooker with a friend. He dashed off to his house and tried to comfort her in the street while they waited for the ambulance. It was nearly midnight. His wife Nisha Patel-Nasri had been stabbed in the leg outside her house in Wembley with her own kitchen knife, a very large one, and she died of massive blood loss in the street. She was dressed in her nightclothes. A few days before this incident Mrs Patel-Nasri had been alarmed by an attempted break-in into the house, and this would explain why she had gone out with her kitchen knife when she was killed. She also had a torch, and all these circumstances suggest that the whole incident must have happened outside the front door.

Neighbours first heard her cry, "He's following me!", then: "He's stabbed me!" There was a great deal of blood on the street but none inside the house, and the evidence was that she was stabbed in the street.

Since it was her own knife, and since she had experienced an attempted burglary before, the facts of the crime suggest that she had brought out the knife and that the attacker, outraged by this and out of self-protection, had taken the knife from her, and, perhaps because of her screams, had stabbed her in the leg and run off. A crucial artery was cut and this is what killed her.

Witnesses reported seeing two suspicious men at the scene, one in a hoodie running off, the other walking away without turning round to look at the screaming woman in the street. The police appealed for information about these two at the time. Mrs Patel-Nasri had reported that the previous burglary attempt had involved two men that she had seen in the porch.

The police understandably deduced that the fatally must have been caused by an attack with her own knife by someone trying to get into the house. Mrs Patel-Nasri was a special police constable in her spare time, and this incident attracted a lot of media coverage.

The incident occurred in May 2006, and for months the police had no evidence to go by, but in September they found the knife in a street drain not far from the house, and after searching the CCTV footage of a camera that overlooked the area of the drain, they identified an Audi A4 with a distinctive radio aerial and a missing number-plate light, which stopped at the drain for eight seconds a few minutes after the attack and presumably disposed of the knife.

The car was traced to a Tony Emmanuel, who was charged with murder on 9th December. He didn't deny that it was his car and he was directly implicated by the evidence. When confronted with his situation he produced a prepared statement, and from this point the case became surrealistic, leading to the conviction of three men for the planned assassination of Mrs Patel-Nasri, with Tony Emmanuel being acquitted. His statement went like this, viz:

"I, Tony Emmanuel, wish to say that on the 11th May 2006 I was asked by a friend to drive him to an address in the Wembley area. I do not wish to disclose his details because I am convinced that both my own safety and that of my family will be put in serious danger if I do, notwithstanding police protection. My friend informed me that he wished to collect some ecstasy tablets from an address. At no time did I contemplate or have any knowledge that my friend may injure anybody. I did not know where I was going and he directed me down various streets. I cannot be sure of the precise time but it was in the evening. My friend asked to use the phone and I am unsure who he phoned but from the police disclosure I believe this must be Rodger Leslie. I overheard directions being given. At no time did I contemplate or have any knowledge that my friend may injure anybody. My friend asked me to pull over and he left the vehicle. I stayed in the driver's seat to wait for his return. I thought that my friend was going to carry out a drugs deal. He then returned to the car and was out of breath. I did not see a knife. He told me to drive. I did not see where my friend had gone or what happened but I now believe that he murdered the victim in question. Shortly afterwards I was asked to stop, which I did. I thought my friend needed to urinate although I was later told by my friend that he had discarded the knife. My friend later told me that he had stabbed someone after the victim had pulled a knife out. My friend told me that Rodger Leslie and the victim's husband were involved in a plan to hurt the victim. I was only made aware of this after the events in question to which I refer." Signed T Emmanuel 7 December 2006.

This statement looks a bit suspicious. The phrasing suggests that someone else helped to compose it, and the "T" for Tony in the signature suggests that the writer is not being fulsome with the truth (that he is being cagey), and while he does not name his friend on the grounds that he is scared of him despite his reference to police protection, he is clearly happy to name another individual, who was later presented to the jury as being dangerous, on the strength of information given to him by the police. So the police have directly contributed to his statement's information. Emmanuel even uses the prosecution's term of "murder" for a stabbing in the leg, and it also includes the prosecution case of "intent to do harm" to Mrs Patel-Nasri, which contradicts the drug deal issue that it follows. There is no trace of the second suspect in it. Throughout the statement he is the innocent factor in the thing.

Emmanuel knows nothing about the knife or any bloodstains, because the killer conceals it, large and bloody, in his clothes. He sees nothing to implicate him in the incident, and he thinks that his friend got out of the car to relieve his bladder, but it takes two or three seconds to get out of a car, and again to get back in, and the car is reported to have stopped at the drain for only eight seconds.

Despite his statement's reluctance to name his "friend", and bearing in mind that the police already knew from his mobile phone records that Rodger Leslie had been phoned during the incident, within a couple of days three black men were in custody. The fourth man, husband Fadi Nasri, wasn't arrested until two and a half months later, on the 27th February 2007. They were all connected by mobile phone records and Emmanuel's statement.

The arrests went like this: Tony Emmanuel (41) and Rodger Leslie (37) on the 6th December, Jason James (35) on the day of the statement (the 7th December), and the husband, Fadi Nasri, on the 27th February 2007. All were charged with murder.

The murder charges went like this: Tony Emmanuel on December 9th, Jason Jones on January 26th, Fadi Nasri and Rodger Leslie on February 28th.

At the trial in early 2008, the three that were not directly connected to the crime scene were found guilty of murder, while the one who was directly implicated was acquitted.

So, what turned an attempted burglary and manslaughter case into one of first degree murder involving people who weren't there or who were not directly implicated by the evidence?

The three unlucky defendents were linked together by mobile phone calls originating from Tony Emmanuel's phone. His phone (he claimed it was Jason Jones) contacted Rodger Leslie's, and Rodger Leslie's phone had contacted Fadi Nasri. So in Emmanuel's account, he isn't connected to the subject of the prosecution by his own mobile phone either, Jason Jones is. Emmanuel's statement has unleahed a web of lies involving drugs, limousines and the prosecution case against Fadi Nasri.

The prosecution case alleged that Fadi Nasri had plotted the murder of his wife so that he could cash in on her life insurance and set up a new life with a woman that it was discovered he had been having an affair with, a Miss Laura Mockiene, the discovery of which seems to be the turning-point of the case. The prosecution cited debts to justify this premise.

The prosecution case was that husband Fadi Nasri had ordered his wife's murder, and that Rodger Leslie organized it, and that the other two, with Emmanuel acting as the driver, carried it out, and that the various parties contacted each other by mobile phones to ensure that the assassination was carried out properly. This resolution ignores the second suspicious man at the crime scene, and also the crime scene evidence itself, and it includes a "missing" set of keys, allegedly given (without any apparent evidence for this, for there were none found in the drain) to the gang by Fadi Nasri, the reason for this being that the prosecution wanted the attacker to have got into the house and collected the knife himself to justify its case of intent to murder.

The prosecution case had the killer get inside the house, presumably with the prosecution's keys, and disturbing the victim, who was now upstairs, barefoot and in her pyjamas, and that Jones went into the kitchen at the back of the house and took the knife, and that when she came downstairs, he chased her with it to the front door and stabbed her once, fleeing as she screamed for help.

However, the large size of the knife, at 13 and a half inches, shows that it was selected to scare away, and that therefore Mrs Patel-Nasri had taken it from the kitchen herself while the attacker was not in the house, for this purpose. And this accords with the evidence at the scene of the incident, which the prosecution case does not.

To accept the prosecution case, it was necessary for the jury to believe that a husband would hire criminals to murder his wife, that the killer would go out on the job with no mobile phone while needing to contact the organizer (and why should he need to contact the organizer afterwards?) or else with one that doesn't work, and with no weapon, but uses a knife from the victim's own kitchen, and stabs her in the leg with it, and, while she is screaming outside in the street that she has been stabbed, runs off instead of finishing her off?

The prosecution case is preposterous, ludicrous, ridiculous; it is pretentious; and the jury accepted it. And as a result, the only man directly connected by the evidence is acquitted, and bolts out of the court immediately the verdict is given, shouting to the security men, "Lock the doors boys!", while the three defendents not directly connected to the incident are convicted of murder.

The mug shots of neither Fadi Nasri nor Rodger Leslie portray guilt facing justice, and the same applies to their reactions to the verdicts, which interestingly resemble their mug shots exactly. In Fadi Nasri's case, he shook his head, and in Rodger Leslie's case, he shouted: "F***ing hell, that's a bit harsh," and: "You must be f***ing joking," before laughing and slumping back in his seat. In his mug shot Leslie looks ironic and furious.

The truth?

Jason Jones - At the trial, Jason Jones said of Tony Emmanuel's story: "It's just lies. He is looking for someone else to put the blame on." Tony Emmanuel's counsel asked him in cross examination: "Are you angry?" and he said, "I am very angry. I have spent 470 odd days away from my family because of lies by your client...He is trying to use me as a sacrificial lamb for his own purposes."

It was put to Jason Jones that if his account was true then several other people had lied, including a prison officer who testified that Jones had told him Mrs Patel-Nasri's death was "an accident", but the problem with this point is that any detective could have said this without implicating himself, so why not someone investigated for her "murder"?

On the face of it, Jason Jones's testimony looks authentic. Elsewhere he claimed that Tony Emmanuel had offered him £20,000 if he admitted to stabbing Mrs Patel-Nasri, and this does not look like something that may be made up.

Jason Jones insisted that he was nowhere near Wembley that night, which leaves Tony Emmanuel alone with his mobile phone and his car.

And we might ask, Which sort of friend would Emmanuel have most to fear from this situation, notwithstanding police protection - an associate in a crime for which he has been caught, or someone who was nowhere near Wembley at the time of the incident? And who was the "friend" that introduced the "intent to do harm" into the case?

Fadi Nasri claimed that the telephone calls made with co-defendent Rodger Leslie at the time of the incident were to arrange a limousine, this being Nasri's business, while Rodger Leslie testified that it was to arrange a drug deal, this being Leslie's business. The two defendents are contradicting each other while pleading Not Guilty, so either one or both are lying to defend themselves while pleading Not Guilty.

Rodger Leslie - There is common ground between the two answers however, because Leslie claimed that the drugs pick-up had involved a Hummer limousine outside the house, which would explain why Mrs Patel-Nasri had been drawn outside the house, and why she was stabbed in the street.

In both cases the men are falling back on their own business to disassociate themselves from the burglary attempt and the subject of the trial. The two men were friends. Nasri was arrested on suspicion of drug dealing, but searches showed no traces of drugs in the house or in his vehicles.

The only evidence connecting Jason Jones to the case is the word of two people who were in police custody being questioned over this or "other" matters, and given the strong profile of Jones under cross-questioning, then the case against him collapses, because he has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And so therefore must the case against the other two.

Mobile phone calls

Fadi Nasri and Rodger Leslie are incriminated by these mobile phone calls (the time list is taken from the BBC):

2331 BST - Rodger Leslie phones Fadi Nasri after Nasri has taken his wife home (but shouldn't the prosecution case have needed this to be the other way round?)

+30 seconds later - Leslie phones Tony Emmanuel's phone, then phones Nasri again (but where is the telephone call in which Jason Jones asked to use Emmanuel's phone to take directions?)

2335 BST - Nasri leaves to play snooker with his friend

2352 BST - Nasri calls his friend to tell him he is outside his flat

2353 BST - Nisha calls 999 (this must be before the confrontation)

2355 BST - Emmanuel's phone contacts Leslie's (but - see next timing - what could have been said in under ten seconds?

+15 seconds - Leslie calls Nasri (but he couldn't have reported what was happening at Nasri's house because one of Nasri's neighbours told him by phone instead).

After this - zilch. No effort to communicate over the alleged assassination bid. And unless there were more calls earlier, the mobile phone evidence appears to prove that Jason Jones did not ask to use Emmanuel's phone to contact Leslie for directions.

An empty case

This prosecution was bereft of any evidence to substantiate it. None of the crime scene evidence agreed with the prosecution case and its contention of a planned murder. There was no evidence of an intrusion inside the house, and all the evidence portrays a spontaneous incident occurring outside the house with a knife produced by the victim.

There was no evidence of keys being involved in the incident. The prosecution has exploited a loss of keys that appears to have occurred months before the incident, in December 2005, and weeks before Fadi Nasri began his relationship with Miss Mockiene.

The prosecution's contention that money and debts (and Miss Mockiene) were the motive for its murder case was adequately dealt with by the defence. Nasri's business had made a profit, and an independent accountant established that there weren't any money concerns. The prosecution claimed that Mrs Patel-Nasri had provided the money for Fadi Nasri's limousine business, but the defence was that her name was used for tax purposes and that Nasri had acquired the money himself.

Conspiracy theory

In any court equation there is a balance of natural values to be resolved, and in this case, the balancing of an inherent "fake" conspiracy would be a true conspiracy, which would normally be found counterbalancing the "fake" one on the other side of the equation. In this case the opposing conspiracy would be the prosecution that has produced this absurd conviction.

After the trial, the police reported that Fadi Nasri did not become a suspect until months after the killing when it became apparent from CCTV footage that the men who killed Nisha had waited for more than an hour in the area until shortly after Nasri left before going in, and that this was why the police thought that he was complicit in her murder.

It is also reported that the turning point of the case was a photograph of a thigh belonging to Miss Laura Mockiene on Nasri's mobile phone, and the discovery that he was having an affair.

The police also reported that Tony Emmanuel had told them that Jones had told him that he had been inside the house and had seen piles of cash in the front room, which agrees with their prosecution case. In fact there was money in the house and so this was the only evidence that somone had got inside the house. The police stated that until then, they had believed that the killer had confronted Patel-Nasri outside the house following a disturbance, and that she had brought the knife out herself, which agrees with the real evidence.

However, this information doesn't appear in Emmanuel's statement, which also contains evidence (the term of "murder") serving the prosecution case as well as evidence of police influence.

So the turning point of the case, from the logical evaluation of the crime scene to the prosecution of husband Nasri, has been attributed in four different ways. Firstly there is the statement of Tony Emmanuel of December 7th, which uses information taken from the police, then there is this alleged disclosure by Tony Emmanuel, which is not in the statement, about Jason Jones and the money, and then there is the news that Fadi Nasri was having an affair with another woman, and then there is the CCTV footage that the police allege showed a car waiting for an hour for Fadi Nasri to leave.

So the collective turning point of the case was the entire prosecution case against Nasri Fadi.

After the trial, the leading detective creditted a tabloid newspaper for swinging the case for them during the trial by publishing in March a photograph of Fadi Nasri on holiday with his girlfriend. The leading detective said: "We knew we had a case but The Sun's publication helped us gain his conviction." This looks like an admission from the police that the press had manipulated the trial. And it raises questions as to where the photograph came from and what it was doing apart from the "evidence".

This issue suggests a motive for turning the case against Fadi Nasri. It seems to have been the turning point of both the investigation and the conviction at the trial.

The Motive

The police have said that the turning point for the investigation was the news that husband Fadi Nasri had been having an affair with an ex-prostitute (he had previously owned an escort agency and liked the women's company) named Laura Mockiene, a Lithuanian, who he had met in January, a few weeks before his wife's death. He was sharing a flat with her when he was arrested in February 2007. Photographs were taken of them on holiday after the death of his wife, and these were shown to the jury, though it is difficult to determine in what way they serve as evidence of murder.

Nisha Patel-Nasri was an attractive woman and her husband Fadi Nasri appears to be good-looking too, and since good-looking people attract because of their looks, there must be a high risk of unsuccessful marriages or adultery for them. Fadi Nasri had previously been married for three years, the same period that his marriage with Nisha appears to have been failing at the time of her death, and it would appear that this is a critical period for the accused husband. It has also been suggested that Mrs Patel-Nasri had been contemplating a divorce. She is reported to have wanted a child, while Fadi Nasri was not so keen.

According to press reports a policeman who was called to an incident involving Mrs Patel-Nasri found her attitude obnoxious and very aggressive. He reported her for using her special constable badge and authority to enforce a debt payment from one of her husband's customers. The customer had called the police. The policeman reported her to the police authorities and she was only reprimanded. It is surprising that she kept her badge after this incident.

In any court equation where there is dispute over the truth it is necessary to look for evidence of hypocrisy or of a constructive reversal of values in the equation. Here there are examples on both sides. In the case of Fadi Nasri, there is his infidelity, but this was limited to his marriage and doesn't affect the information relating to the court case. There is also the disagreement between Leslie and Nasri over the reason for the mobile phone calls, but this could have been due to degraded memory, and Jason Jones's testimony abrogates this issue. On the prosecution side there are many examples of hypocrisies, including its contention, which ignores the evidence of the incident scene, and the police crowning their successful conviction by heaping praise on an unfortunate victim who had disgraced her police badge, and the police using the media that helped to secure the conviction to do this. Here lies the key to the whole case. Then there is the testimony of a police officer who attributed evidence of guilt to Jason Jones's deduction about the evident character of this incident.

The Fadi Nasri case appears to consist of a petty hypocrisy (his infidelity) provoking an over-sized counter-hypocrisy by the prosecution team. However no one concerned in justice issues would agree that imprisonment for life for murder is an appropriate punishment for an adultery where the innocent spouse is connected to the police force.

Another explanation for motive may be connected to one of the other defendants, or perhaps to both.

The crime scene

The newspaper The Sun reported the crime scene as follows: "A sickening trail of blood yesterday marked the final steps of tragic WPC Nisha Patel-Nasri. The brave special constable is thought to have staggered along the pavement and collapsed after being knifed outside her home by a hoodie-wearing thug. A pool of blood lay at either end of her crimson footprints as fellow officers examined the scene in a bid to trace her killer. Her devastated husband Fadi, 32, who held Nisha as she was dying, said last night: "She was everything to me. It's only just starting to sink in, I can't believe what has happened. I'm in deep shock." Fadi rushed home after a neighbour phoned to tell him Nisha, 29, had been stabbed. He arrived at their house in Wembley, North London, as Nisha lay unconscious in the street and tried desperately to revive her. Neighbour Misbah Syal, 28, a former pal of Nisha's from Wembley High School, said: "He just kept saying over and over again, "Why did you open the door?" even though she was bleeding to death. He was in total shock."

At the time of Nasri's arrest, a neighbour told The Sun: "I have seen him a few times since Nisha was murdered and he always looked a complete mess. He was distraught and hadn't got over it. He never really lived in the house after it happened. I saw him about a week ago. He was moving things out of the house and told me he was selling it."

This is not a compelling portrait of a man who plotted the murder of his wife, and the neighnour's testimony is consistent with Nasri's own in court. It is also consistent with the crime scene evidence.

The Verdict

Fadi Nasri and his two co-defendents were found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder by a majority verdict of 10-2. This suggests that five out of six people in Britain today are not suitable for jury service.

Criminal trials once required unanimous verdicts. The 10-2 majority verdict, which was instituted to speed things up where the jury has difficulty, enables the "mob" of the jury to by-pass the intelligent conscience in cases requiring intelligence, as all of them do.

For the Algebra of Justice click here.