Justin Bello: Family of murder victim found in Wembley bin shed demand justice
The family of a young father vowed never to give up their justice fight as three people who disposed of his body in a bin shed were jailed - but no one convicted of his murder.
Justin Bello’s alleged killer fled the UK four days after the 38-year-old was choked to death, stripped and “unceremoniously” dumped in Wembley, north west London.
Refuse collectors made the grisly discovery 48 hours later, finding a black suitcase with Mr Bello’s feet sticking out of it on November 23, 2019, the Old Bailey heard.
A suspect, 34 - the boyfriend of a criminal solicitor - was reportedly arrested after three years on the run at an airport near Montego Bay in Jamaica last month. He is expected to be extradited back to Britain.
Mr Bello, “a wonderful, kind and super-loving” gym sales manager for Nuffield Health, had a young son, now 15.
Distraught Louisa Bello told the Standard she believes her brother was attacked and robbed by former friends jealous he was making a success of life but witnesses were too scared to give evidence to police.
Following a two-month trial, a second defendant, 36, from Wandsworth, was acquitted of murder. Jurors cleared the lawyer, 40, from Mitcham, and two of her co-accused of covering up the crime.
But on Friday February 10, Oliver Scott, 53, of Hornsey, and Christopher Hatton, 44, from Maida Vale, received six years each for perverting the course of justice. Cecilia Bruce-Annan, 50, of Stanmore, got four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for the same offence.
Ms Bello described her brother’s death as “a never-ending horror movie” of “a 1,000 hot needles being stabbed into our hearts”, adding: “We will not rest until Justin’s killers are caught as it is not safe for these so-called humans to be on the streets.
“He was voiceless during the trial. It was all weighted in favour of the defendants - how being arrested had affected their lives, character witnesses coming to speak up for them. Juries should be told more about victims’ lives and the devastating consequences.
“Justin had his whole life ahead of him, was university educated and a brilliant father.”
Ms Bello added: “We have been crucified emotionally, physically and mentally for more than three years.
“The real crux of our pain is knowing the last people to put their hands on our beloved Justin did so with such unkindness, treating him as though he were a filthy bag of rubbish that needed dumping in the middle of the night. We all have regular nightmares.
“Because we haven’t had any closure, even now, the despair is something we will have to find a way to live with, with the help of therapists and medication.”
Police say the motive for Mr Bello’s killing is unclear. He left his home in Croydon and travelled to a flat in Stockwell owed by the on-the-run suspect. He was never seen alive again.
Following the murder, Mr Bello was stripped of his clothes and mobile phones which have never been found.
The suspects also got rid of their own devices, hoping this would prevent police from using data to track their movements and then cleaned up the murder scene. However, a stain from Mr Bello’s blood was found on a rolled-up rug.
Hatton and Bruce-Annan, involved in moving the body, each had cash deposited into their bank account in the days after Mr Bello’s body was found.
Detective Chief Inspector Claire Hine, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “We will never know what caused the attack on Justin Bello that ended his life, or what part each of the players in this trial took in their efforts to hide the murder and confuse the investigation.
“Those convicted at trial played a key role in covering up the murder, cleaning the flat, disposing of the victim’s clothes and phones, removing the body and placing it in the bin shed. We know from mobile phone data that in the hours following the murder they were in contact with or in the company of the suspects in this murder.
“Many questions relating to this case will likely never be answered, which I know will continue to trouble Mr Bello’s loved ones for some years to come. My thoughts are with them today and I hope that the convictions handed down bring them a small measure of comfort.”
In relation to the Jamaican fugitive, the Metropolitan Police said: “We are not prepared to discuss.”