A pharmacist faces life in jail for strangling his wife to death so he could cash in on her life insurance and start a new life with his gay lover in Australia.
Mitesh Patel, of Middlesbrough, hoped to make £2million from his wife’s death and use her frozen embryos to have the family with Dr Amit Patel, who had emigrated to Sydney.
Mitesh tried to pass off his wife’s murder as a botched burglary of their home, which is not far from the pharmacy they run together.
But his lies were undone by the iPhone Health App, which both he and his wife used, and the case understood to be the first in the UK where it has been used as evidence in court.
Mitesh Patel, 37, denies strangling his wife Jessica, 34, at their home in Middlesbrough
The court heard Jessica was aware her husband was having affairs with men behind her back
The app tracks a person’s steps throughout the day and it disproved Patel’s lie that Jess was murdered by an intruder.
In the minutes that followed her death Patel’s phone monitored frantic activity, racing around the house as he staged the burglary, running and up and down the stairs, while hers stayed still.
Only after her death it moved exactly 14 paces as her husband took it from her body and deposited outside to make it look as though the ‘burglar’ had dropped it as he left.
Jessica, 34, had suffered in silence for six years, aware that her husband was in love with another man and was also having casual sex with strangers he met on the Grindr dating app.
Patel planned to start a new life with Dr Amit Patel (pictured) in Australia
There were cries of ‘yes!’ from the public gallery as Patel was found guilty today. Mr Justice James Goss told him he faces a life sentence and will only be released ‘in many years to come’.
Patel had also made a series of internet searches before her death, including ‘I need to kill my wife’ before strangling her with his bare hands and a Tesco plastic bag on May 14 this year..
His motivation had always been to escape his strict Hindu upbringing and flee to Australia to be with Amit Patel and for the couple to bring up a family.
Even while he and his wife were going through three unsuccessful rounds of IVF, he was planning to kill her and take the baby to Sydney, asking Amit Patel: ‘Would you love it like your own?’
The fourth IVF cycle had resulted in Jessica’s embryos being harvested and held in frozen storage in a fertility clinic in Darlington.
With access to the embryos Patel had no more use for her, prosecutor Nicholas Camopbell, QC, told the court and he brought forward his plan to murder her.
Patel ransacked their home after the murder to try to make it look like a burglary
He was snared after police discovered a step-counting app on their phones showed him frantically running around before calling 999, while her phone stayed still
Teesside Crown Court was read messages between Mitesh Patel and his wife which showed she was resisting continuing with IVF because she knew he was having sex with other men.
In some cases he was bringing them back to their home and having sex in their spare room, using lubricant and condoms he kept in the marital bedroom.
He also invited Amit Patel to the couple’s previous home in West Yorkshire, leaving his wife in the middle of the night to be with his lover in the guest room.
Patel’s Google searches also helped to give him away. In the weeks leading up to the murder he searched: ‘Can 3mm of insulin kill?’, ‘How to complete a coroner’s report,’ and ‘Hindu funerals for a murdered woman’ and was looking at properties for sale and rent in Australia.
He even went to a pizza takeaway to make it look like he and his wife were having a night in
The victim was pictured, in her final moments, returning home, before her husband killed her
During the course of the trial Patel admitted: ‘I should have been honest with myself and I should not have married Jess.’
He added: ‘I cannot explain how I felt. It was the fear of being exposed as an Asian gay man, that was one thing and the other was that I was not going to let Jess down. I had married Jess and all her dreams were going to come to a crashing end.’
Cleveland police say that Dr Amit Patel, a GP who worked at a health centre, has only been spoken to as a witness, although the enquiry into all the circumstances leading up to Jessica’s murder is ongoing and does not end with her husband’s conviction.
Mr Justice Goss told the jury a life sentence was mandatory and he will determine the minimum term Patel must serve behind bars on Wednesday morning.
He will hear victim statements from Jessica’s grandmother, father and a joint one by her siblings and cousins before he sentences.
The jury unanimously found Patel guilty after deliberating for around three hours on the 12th day of the trial.
He wrapped duct tape around her mouth, which he claimed burglars had used to silence her
The health app that snared the pharmacist: Detectives used steps to show he staged burglary
The killer pharmacist’s iPhone health app helped convict him in what was thought to be a legal first in the UK.
After his arrest, police seized Mitesh Patel’s handset and downloaded critical information about his movements, including when the phone moved and where.
The health app uses motion processors in the phone to monitor a user’s steps and when the handset is taken up a flight of stairs, and that evidence was used in court to show the killer’s frantic movements around his home, going upstairs to ransack rooms to stage a break-in after he had strangled his wife in the living room.
It also showed that after he returned from a trip out to buy food that night, he had gone upstairs after he pretended to find his wife’s stricken body, dashing into a bedroom to hide the house’s CCTV hard-drive in a suitcase full of clothes.
Investigators used data from the couple’s phones to show how the husband was frantically moving around after the killing as he staged the burglary
His wife’s phone was also analysed to reveal more evidence of Mitesh Patel’s lies.
Research of Jessica Patel’s health app showed the handset moved 14 steps at 7.44pm – the exact time Mitesh Patel left her lifeless body and fled the house to create an alibi.
He claimed his wife was still alive when he ventured out, but his story crumbled when the health app showed her phone remained motionless outside the couple’s Middlesbrough home until 8.40pm that night.
That was when a police officer picked it up near their front door, where it had been left by Patel, 37, to make it look like it had been dumped by an intruder.
A legal source said it was thought to have been the first use of such in-depth iPhone health app analysis in a major UK trial.