A pharmacist from Middlesbrough, England is facing murder charges following the death of his wife.
Mitesh Patel, the 36-year-old suspect, had reportedly used the dark web before the murder took place, according to witness testimony recently presented in court.
Jessica Patel, the suspect’s wife, died in May at their home. The death of the 34-year-old was due to suffocation and strangulation.
Mitesh and Jessica were co-owners of Roman Road Pharmacy.
According to the Cleveland Police force, the post-mortem examination indicated that before she died, Jessica had severe injuries.
Jessica’s family stated that her death was unbearable to them.
The suspect’s hearing took place at the Teesside Crown Court in the presence of a jury. Mitesh denied the accusations leveled against him.
Mitesh’s Interest in the Dark Web
According to the information that the court obtained, Mitesh discovered that he could use some parts of the internet that many people could not access.
He learned about the dark web from Sam Hornby, a 17-year-old part-time worker at the pharmacy.
Hornby told the court that after he taught Mitesh how the darknet worked, he took a lot of interest. Mitesh wrote down some notes on how to access darknet sites while at home.
Hornby and the suspect found a page on the dark web that provided guns, hitmen, drugs along with illegal films.
However, only one of the links on which they clicked came up with more information. It contained details on counterfeit money.
According to Hornby, he had no ill intentions and only clicked on the link out of curiosity. He compared his action to people watching crime documentaries out of mere interest.
Hornby further told the court that he and the accused accessed the dark web another time. This time, the accused searched for suicide and insulin. However, there were no results.
The Suspect’s Strange Behavior
Besides Mitesh’s recent interest in the dark web, he had portrayed other unusual behavior. The suspect had begun to use dating apps.
Although everyone at the pharmacy knew, Jessica Patel remained unaware of what her husband was doing.
Ranjeet Khanda, who was a locum at the Patels’ pharmacy, provided witness testimony saying that on the day of Jessica’s death, the suspect was acting strangely.
This witness, however, pointed out that the suspect’s behavior was always unusual.
Khanda pointed out a few things that were peculiar on that day. Mitesh usually greeted him by shaking his hand.
According to Khanda’s statement, handshakes are a common form of greeting when Asian people meet. However, Mitesh did not shake his hand that day.
Furthermore, when he got back to the pharmacy at 7.40 p.m., Khanda noticed that the suspect’s neck had three scratch marks.
The marks looked red and fresh. Jessica had left about 40 minutes before that.
Mitesh then went into the storeroom. Khanda heard strange noises as if the suspect was shifting some items.
Another worker confirmed that Mitesh’s behavior was strange since he never usually entered the storeroom.
Further Implicating Statements
According to Nicholas Campbell, the prosecutor, Mitesh claimed that he came home to find his wife dead.
The murderer had tied her wrists using duct tape. However, Campbell declared that the suspect’s claim was untrue.
Campbell stated that the suspect left the house after the incident to appear unaware of what happened.
Mitesh had indicated that the murderer has also ransacked his home. The prosecutor, nonetheless, accused him of stage-managing the burglary.
Furthermore, Campbell reported that Mitesh had used a plastic shopping bag from Tesco to tie and suffocate his wife.
Once he came back to the house, Mitesh tried to conceal a hard drive he had obtained from a CCTV system underneath a mattress. He then called the police.
The prosecutor stated that Mitesh had a motive for the murder. Jessica’s death would earn him £2 million from her insurance payout, which he would use to relocate to Australia with his male lover.
Mitesh had been in a long-term relationship with a doctor. The two had waited to be together for six years.
Campbell also disproved the suspect’s claim that there was a burglary by stating that some artifacts in the home’s prayer room were still intact.
The prosecutor reported that the artifacts were among the items that Mitesh was planning on taking when he moved to Australia.
Campbell pointed out that Mitesh also searched the dark web for information on plotting to murder his wife along with strangulation, insulin as well as hitmen.
Jessica’s sister, Minal Patel, also gave her testimony. She said that she went to the Patels’ home two days after the murder.
Minal stated that the suspect grabbed her and screamed at her, claiming that he wanted Jessica back.
The witness further reported that Mitesh could not eat after the incident. According to her, Mitesh stated that he went home and found his wife dead.
The suspect called the police but failed to indicate that he found her tied up.
Divya Patel, Jessica’s other sister, confirmed that Mitesh was involved with other men. In 2012, she found conversations on the suspect’s phone that appeared to be romantic in nature.
The Suspect’s Relationship with the Victim
The court received testimonies of how Mitesh Patel treated his wife. Two of the witnesses worked at the pharmacy as dispensers.
One of them, Lauren Hopwood, stated that Mitesh was short-tempered. On several occasions, he would throw and kick things, slam doors and shout.
Heather Nesbitt’s statement was more specific about Mitesh’s aggression towards his wife. According to the witness, the suspect often insulted her.
Nesbitt added that at one point, the accused asked Jessica if it would bother her if her boyfriend died. He also stated that he would go on a cruise if Jessica died.
The two witnesses also admitted to having been aware of Mitesh’s use of Grindr, a dating and social networking app geared towards the LGBTQ community.
Jayantilal Patel, the victim’s father, also gave his testimony. He said that on the day that Jessica died, he had visited the pharmacy and observed that his conversation with the suspect was strange.
Mitesh told his father-in-law that between him and Jessica, he played the dominating role. He also stated that he could do what he wished.
Jessica’s father added that Mitesh had said that it was good that the victim never questioned him.
The suspect further expressed his dissatisfaction with his marriage by telling his father-in-law that he (Jayantilal) would not want a wife like Jessica.
The witness also indicated that in 2014, Mitesh accused Jessica’s family of interfering with their marriage. He also wrote a text message stating that at one point, Jessica would have to choose between him and her family.
Pharmacy Workers Defend the Suspect
Toby Hedworth was one of the people that came to Mitesh’s defense. During his cross-examination, Hedworth stated that he was hardly ever in the pharmacy when the accused was around.
He further indicated that Mitesh failed to shake Khanda’s hand because the latter was talking to a customer.
However, Khanda could not confirm that Hedworth’s statement was accurate. He did not clearly remember whether or not he was talking to a customer at the time.
Another employee, Scott Summers, justified Mitesh’s presence in the storeroom. He told the court that he saw the CCTV footage of the storeroom and observed Mitesh kissing another man.
Besides, Summers stated that the suspect was often on Grindr and would have long conversations with other men on the app.
The evidence that the witnesses presented still leaves the question of whether or not Mitesh is guilty unanswered. The trial, therefore, is still ongoing.