A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of a 44-year-old woman in her own home in Hackney.
Gavin Shane Carl Lewis, 41 (03.03.79) of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the murder of Sandra Samuels at the Old Bailey on Friday, 4 December.
He will be sentenced on Tuesday, 8 December.
A murder investigation was launched on 31 August 2019 after Sandra was found dead in her flat on Howard Road, N16.
A concerned family member raised the alarm and reported that they had not seen Sandra in several days. Police attended the address and forced entry into the property.
The London Ambulance Service also attended and sadly, Sandra was pronounced dead at the scene at 15:58hrs.
Detectives quickly discovered a CCTV camera on the landing outside Sandra’s flat captured vital evidence regarding who visited Sandra’s flat in the hours before her death. This footage identified one person - Gavin Shane Carl Lewis.
CCTV captured him visiting Sandra’s flat at numerous times over the days leading up to her murder.
These visits culminated in the visit that would see Lewis attack Sandra. He arrived at her flat at 16:50hrs on 29 August 2019. The CCTV footage showed her carrying a large bunch of keys and wearing the same clothes as recorded by CCTV from earlier in the day. She opened a gate and left the keys in the lock.
By 16:52hrs Lewis was inside Sandra’s flat. This is the last time Sandra is seen alive. Lewis left Sandra’s flat after 19 minutes inside.
In these 19 minutes, Lewis launched a ferocious attack on Sandra, causing her multiple injuries. After fatally wounding her, Lewis hid Sandra’s body by covering her with items from around the flat.
A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head and torso.
When Lewis arrived at Sandra’s flat he was wearing a black vest, but when he left, he was bare chested and carrying a black hold-all. He used her keys, which had been left in the lock, to close the exterior gate. He took the keys with him and these have never been recovered.
CCTV footage showed that between the last time Sandra was seen alive and the discovery of her body on 31 August 2019, the only person she saw was Lewis.
After leaving Sandra’s flat, Lewis made his way to Gillet Square where he was captured on CCTV removing items from the holdall before disposing of the bag itself.
Friends of Sandra, who also knew Lewis and saw him at Gillet Square, told the investigation how he appeared to be in a good mood.
At 20:05hrs Lewis boarded a northbound Route 76 bus from a nearby bus stop on Kingsland High Street. While on the bus, on-board CCTV showed him making a phone call.
The phone that he used to make that call was registered to Sandra Samuels.
Lewis then made his way to an address near to Stamford Hill Broadway. The same address where he was arrested for Sandra’s murder on 3 September 2019. At this address, officers discovered Sandra’s mobile phone. They also found the trainers that Lewis wore on the night he killed Sandra; they were damp and had been left to dry on the radiator following an apparent attempt to cover his tracks.
During his interview with police he denied killing her, claiming that when he left her flat she was alive and well.
Lewis was charged with the murder of Sandra Samuels on 5 September 2019.
He was remanded for trial at the Old Bailey and on Friday, 4 December, he pleaded guilty to murder.
Detective Inspector Darren Jones, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command (Homicide), said: “Sandra was described as a kind and friendly woman by everyone who knew her. She had a group of friends who cared deeply for her. I want to extend my condolences to her family and friends, I hope that today’s conviction can bring some comfort.
“It is a tragedy that Sandra’s life was cut short by the cruel actions of Gavin Shane Carl Lewis. Sandra opened her home to Lewis and gave him a place to stay when he needed it. They were friends. Lewis repaid Sandra’s kindness and friendship by attacking her in her own home. Following his arrest he attempted to divert the investigation toward Sandra’s ex-partner, but the CCTV evidence is damning. Lewis killed Sandra and attempted to conceal his crime by covering her body with items from the flat and locking the gate to prevent anyone else getting inside.
“Finally, I would like to commend the officers who spend hours meticulously watching the hundreds of hours of CCTV footage that was crucial in this case. By identifying the key pieces of footage Lewis was convicted of murdering Sandra Samuels.”