Fight for sister's honour
London, June 8: The brother of Nisha Patel, an Indian policewoman in London, is battling to rescue her reputation two years after his 29-year-old sister was murdered at her home in Wembley with a kitchen knife in what seemed at the time like a bungled burglary.
But her husband was recently convicted of her murder and there have been claims that Nisha helped him run an escort agency, supplying prostitutes to clients, and used her police status to collect money from reluctant payers.
Ketan Patel said: “Now all these newspaper reports have come out with a raft of allegations saying that my sister was a secret vice-madam. It’s disgusting.”
Nisha was a special constable, which meant she able to combine her duties as a part-time policewoman with running a hairdressing business.
She was born into a Hindu family in Luton. Her relatives did not approve of her choice when she became engaged to a Lebanese Muslim, Fadi Nasri, in December 2002, which is when she also joined the police. They were married in May 2003, and to her friends and relatives, the couple gave the impression they were very much in love.
On the night of May 11, 2006, Nisha was attacked at her home by an assailant who stabbed her in the leg as she was trying to get away.
Her husband, who rushed home after being summoned by one of Nisha’s friends, wailed “Oh, my God, Nisha”, as she was driven away in an ambulance. By the time she reached hospital, she had bled to death.
It is time-honoured tradition in Britain that when the police lose one of their own, they spare no effort to catch the killer.
After her death, her tearful husband appeared on television and appealed for witnesses. “Obviously, someone has got a guilty conscience,” said Fadi Nasri.
Nasri, 33, was recently convicted of hiring two men, Roger Leslie and Jason Jones, to have his wife killed for insurance money worth £360,000 and her share of the family businesses, which would have settled his mounting debts.
He had also formed a relationship with a Lithuanian prostitute in her mid-twenties, Laura Mockiene, whom he had taken on an expensive holiday to Egypt.
When Nisha died, it seemed like a straightforward case of good versus evil.
As her brother Ketan pointed out: “When my sister died, she got a police escort at her funeral because she’d won plaudits as a part-time volunteer officer. Her coffin was draped with the Met’s police flag and given a guard of honour by 100 officers. Even Sir Ian Blair (the Metropolitan Police Commissioner) said her loss was a terrible blow.”
Blair had issued a statement after Nasri’s conviction: “Her death has been a huge loss to her family, friends and to the Metropolitan Police Service which she served so enthusiastically.”
Why did Nisha marry Nasri? And how much had she known of his criminal past?
In a curious case of history repeating itself, Nasri’s father was in custody, accused of killing his partner and her daughter, but he committed suicide in prison before the trial.
Fadri Nasri served a nine-month prison sentence after trying to run down a police officer who had stopped him to ask him about the tax disc on his car.
He ran an escort agency, Seventh Heaven, furnishing prostitutes to clients, before he shut it down under pressure from his wife.
One prostitute has sold her story that Nisha would use her own car to drive the girls to meet their clients. Even if this can be discounted, the police were made aware that Nisha had abused her official status to threaten a client who had failed to pay £1,800 for hiring two girls from her husband’s agency. Her records apparently show that she once had to pay £10,000 for tax evasion.
It is being suggested by some newspapers that senior officers let Nisha off with only a caution rather than dismiss her because as an Asian woman she was valuable to the police’s bid to recruit more members of ethnic minorities. This campaign might have suffered a setback had an example been made of Nisha.
Nasri tried to implicate his wife in the running of the escort agency.
In a witness statement Nasri gave to police shortly after his wife’s murder, he suggested she was his business partner.
“I discussed it with Nisha,” Nasri told the police. “We decided to open an escort agency... it took off... at any one time three or four girls were working for us. We would charge £110 an hour, out of which the girls would get £50. The girls could offer all services, including sex.”
Nasri admitted Nisha was reluctant to take an active role and found it “morally wrong”. Nevertheless, he claimed she answered clients’ phone calls and sometimes went with Nasri or his heavies to “recover money” from customers whose cheques had bounced.
Her brother, Ketan, 35, a programme scheduler for ITV, said: “On the say-so of a prostitute, outrageous stories are circulating that my sister, who was viciously murdered, lived a sleazy double life. But the sleazebag was not my 29-year-old sister: it was her husband.”
Ketan recalled: “At first, Fadi told me he’d started a dating agency and I thought nothing of it. But when his mobile phone rang, he’d answer, ‘Seventh Heaven’, and describe the detailed measurements of the women available, so it was obvious to me he was running a sex agency.”
Ketan recalled an argument with Nisha: “I thought it was disgusting and that it showed Fadi had no respect for women but I told myself it was none of my business. Then one day, when Nisha was cutting my hair, I angrily blurted out, ‘Why is he doing this? Why are you doing this?’”
He remembered her reply: “Nisha said it was Fadi’s dream to run his own business but that she didn’t like it either and wanted to get him to stop it. Soon after, he closed the agency and began a limousine hire business with £15,000 that I lent Nisha, and Nisha gave to Fadi. Even Fadi’s friends who gave evidence in court said that the escort agency was his domain.”The case of Nisha Patel was summed up by Moya Reed of the Crown Prosecution Service homicide team, who said: “Initially, it appeared that Nisha Patel was the victim of a horrific stranger attack while Fadi Nasri portrayed himself as the grieving husband. He made an emotional television appeal and stated that his wife’s killer should be brought to justice. But very gradually, it became abundantly clear that Fadi Nasri was not merely complicit in Nisha’s death but had instigated it.”
She added: “Our sincere sympathy goes to Nisha’s family, particularly to her brother, Ketan, whose wedding Nisha was preparing for when she was killed, his wife and their new-born son who will never know Nisha and the love and life that she brought to their household.”