Woman murdered housemate, 28, in women’s refuge ‘after demanding to have sex with her’


 Gareeca Gordon, 28, is being sentenced for murdering Phoenix Netts, also 28, at the property where they both lived in Birmingham on April 16 last year

A woman who murdered her housemate in a women’s refuge before using a circular saw to dismember her body had previously ‘demanded sex’ with her and became ‘aggressive’ when she said no, a court heard. 

Gareeca Gordon, 28, is being sentenced for murdering Phoenix Netts, also 28, at the property where they both lived in Birmingham on April 16 last year. 

Gordon stabbed Ms Netts four times, causing fatal injuries, before dismembering her body into six parts with a circular saw she bought on Gumtree for £45. 

Gordon was arrested near Coleford in the Forest of Dean at about 11pm on May 12 last year, with officers finding her beside a quarry late at night.

Nearby were two large suitcases containing a charred torso and other body parts identified by DNA as Miss Netts.

Gordon will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court by High Court judge Mrs Justice Cutts later today. 

Andrew Smith QC said Ms Netts had told a friend in February that Gordon had ‘demanded sex with her’ and became ‘aggressive’ when she said no. 

Phoenix Netts, 28, is believed to have loud rows with Gareeca Gordon at the hostel where she had been living for a number of months

Phoenix Netts, 28, is believed to have loud rows with Gareeca Gordon at the hostel where she had been living for a number of months

On April 7, Ms Netts sent a text message to a friend stating: ‘There’s a girl here who keeps asking me to be sexual.

‘I think I’m going to move back to London. It’s scaring me lol.’   

Mr Smith also told Bristol Crown Court that Gordon made a call to the Samaritans on April 9, in which she appeared ‘tipsy’.

‘The clear focus of the call was Ms Gordon describing that she liked another woman and wanting to have sex with her,’ Mr Smith said.

‘At one stage Ms Gordon said either that her loins were warming up or were hot.’

Phoenix Netts, pictured right

Phoenix Netts, pictured right

Police discovered Ms Netts’ remains beside a quarry near Coleford, Gloucestershire, in the Forest of Dean, on May 12

The last known contact Ms Netts had was a phone call with a friend in the early hours of April 16. He attempted to ring her back that afternoon but did not get through. 

Police believe she died that day and was killed in the property where both lived. 

Miss Netts suffered four stab wounds to the front of her torso.

Mr Smith said: ‘The precise time which the stab injuries were caused is not known.’   

He told the court that another woman living in the shared accommodation with Ms Netts and Gordon heard noises of drilling and banging, as well as shouts of ‘help me, help me’, on April 16.

Following the murder, Gordon purchased a circular saw on Gumtree for £45 and it was delivered to the property shortly before 11am on April 17.

Mr Smith said the post-mortem examination found the saw was used to dismember the body of Ms Netts when it was either clothed or partially clothed.

‘Dismemberment took place at five different locations of the body, dividing the body into six parts,’ he told the court. 

After the murder, Gordon tried to cover her tracks with a series of ‘detailed, organised actions’. 

She contacted her victim’s friends and family with texts, emails and voice calls pretending to be her, giving the impression that Miss Netts was still alive and moving to London.

Pictures emerged last year of Phoenix with a friend from university, who said she was 'such a lovely person' who 'would give you her last penny'

Pictures emerged last year of Phoenix (left) with a friend from university who said she was ‘such a lovely person’ who ‘would give you her last penny’

Miss Netts’ phone was used by Gordon to make internet searches including ‘how to fix punctured lung’, ‘internal bleeding’ and ‘can someone recover from getting stabbed’ between 1.04pm and 3.07pm on April 16.

Police forensic investigations focused on the hostel, a nearby cemetery and locations in the Forest of Dean, 80 miles away. 

The court heard Gordon made a number of trips to the Forest of Dean and attempted to burn the remains of Ms Netts in woodland there.

Police officers attending reports of a car driving in the area during the coronavirus lockdown on May 12 last year discovered Gordon with two suitcases.

She was arrested on suspicion of murder after one officer opened a suitcase and saw a partially burned torso.

Forensic examinations of Ms Netts’ room found the bed, mattress, carpet and underlay had been removed but blood staining was found in the living area, kitchen and shower, Mr Smith said.

The circular saw used to dismember the body of Ms Netts was discovered in Gordon’s room.

Mr Smith said ‘handwritten plans and notes concerned with her removing the body from Coleford and moving it to Wales to burn further’ were also found in the room. 

Miss Netts grew up the capital, born in Croydon to parents Mark and Saskia.

Saskia’s father Barrie Wentzell was a music photographer who captured stars such as Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles in their prime.

The 28-year-old – who had hoped to become a paramedic – led a troubled life, dropping out of university and battling drug and mental health problems before ending up at the women’s refuge.

Police pictured searching the woodland in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, where the girl's charred and dismembered body was found in suitcases last year

Police pictured searching the woodland in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, where the girl’s charred and dismembered body was found in suitcases last year

Little is known of Gordon’s background other than that in court her full name was given as Gareeca Conita Gordon and that she gave her nationality as Jamaican. 

But she is understood to have been raised in north London, attending an all-girls’ state school. 

While her guilty plea spared Miss Netts’s family the trauma of having to hear detailed evidence about her death, relatives say they are struggling to cope.  

Prosecutor Mr Smith – referring to victim personal statements from Ms Netts’ mother and father – said: ‘Both statements speak of the profound, understandable and enduring loss experienced through the loss of a much loved daughter with whom they expected to share the next chapter of her life.’

He told the court that the pain experienced by the family was ‘exacerbated by the knowledge of the manner of her death and the defendant impersonating her’.

Bristol Crown Court heard Gordon used the mobile phone of Ms Netts to contact her friends and family, claiming she was safe and well, for weeks after the murder.

Her father Mark Netts said in his statement: ‘Our lives have been irreversibly changed and the anguish is indescribable’.

The court heard her mother Saskia described herself as ‘forever devastated, forever empty’.

It understood that after a spell living with an aunt in the Midlands, Miss Netts moved to the hostel in Birmingham at the end of 2019.

Neighbour Wahidur Rahman said: ‘We didn’t know her well – all the women in the refuge kept themselves to themselves. They were all vulnerable in a way. But she would always say hello and ask ‘how are you?’ She was a pretty young girl.’

Phoenix grew up in Croydon, south London and later moved to the Midlands where an aunt lived

It is believed she moved into the women's refuge at the end of last year

Phoenix, above, grew up in Croydon, south London and later moved to the Midlands where an aunt lived. It is believed she moved into the women’s refuge at the end of 2019

During a four-minute hearing at Bristol Crown Court on April 21, Gordon admitted murdering Miss Netts between April 14 and May 12 last year.

At a preliminary hearing, a court heard how Gordon booked part-time taxi driver Mahesh Sorathiya, 39, via Gumtree to take her to and from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire four times.

On the first occasion, on April 25, she asked to be dropped off at a campsite. It is understood she had two suitcases with her. 

Three further trips took place between May 10 and May 12. 

On the last occasion Gordon asked to be dropped off at the gates of a quarry.

The night she was found by police Mr Sorathiya had been stopped by officers who questioned him about being out driving under lockdown restrictions. 

James Ward QC, prosecuting, told the court he was stopped because the location was isolated.

‘[This] is why the police were involved in the first place in stopping his car because of the Covid-19 regulations,’ he said. 

‘What was he doing there? When the police were called back… they found the woman with the suitcase.’

Police, pictured in woodland next to Stowfield Quarry in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, searched the area for several days looking for evidence during the investigation

Police, pictured in woodland next to Stowfield Quarry in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, searched the area for several days looking for evidence during the investigation

Police launched a major operation after discovering the suitcases containing body parts. A court heard how the killer returned to the forest four times

Police launched a major operation after discovering the suitcases containing body parts. A court heard how the killer returned to the forest four times

Mr Sorathiya was initially accused of assisting an offender but all charges against him were later dropped. 

He maintained that at no stage did he have any idea what the suitcases contained and co-operated fully with the police.

His lawyers speculated in court that on the first trip Gordon had taken the dismembered body to the Forest of Dean and that on subsequent trips she had returned to dispose of it. 

This included attempts to burn it.

‘Gareeca Gordon committed a truly gruesome crime and tried to cover her tracks,’ said Lesley Milner, of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Forensic tents, pictured. The quarry is on Staunton Road and the closed section also contains a fishery, a former sawmill which now contains storage units, several houses and a campsite

Forensic tents, pictured. The quarry is on Staunton Road and the closed section also contains a fishery, a former sawmill which now contains storage units, several houses and a campsite

‘Thankfully, the remarkable and detailed police investigation… led to the CPS building a compelling case against Gordon, which resulted in her pleading guilty.’

Miss Netts’s aunt said: ‘The family have been put through enough. At least somebody has now admitted the crime… and will go to prison for it.’   

She is being sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today by High Court judge Justice Cutts.

Speaking after Gordon pleaded guilty to murder, Lesley Milner of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: ‘Gareeca Gordon committed a truly gruesome crime and tried to cover her tracks.

‘Thankfully, the remarkable and detailed police investigation in identifying Phoenix Netts led to the CPS building a compelling case against Gordon, which resulted in her pleading guilty.

‘She has now accepted the totality and consequences of her actions.’

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