Woman sentenced after body found in suitcases in Coleford last year
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A woman who was found with a dismembered body in two suitcases in the Forest of Dean last year has been sentenced to life in prison.
Calculating Gareeca Gordon admitted to murdering and dismembering 28-year-old Phoenix Netts in the multi-occupancy home where they both lived in Birmingham.
Phoenix's body was discovered by local officers in Coleford and a murder investigation was launched by Gloucestershire's Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT).
At Bristol Crown Court today, Tuesday 4 May, Gordon was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum jail term of 23 years and six months.
On the evening of 12 May last year police responded to a call where suspicions had been raised about the manner of a motorist’s driving on the A4136.
Local officers attended and spoke to the driver who said he was waiting for a friend. He was issued with a fixed penalty notice for a breach of Covid-19 regulations as his vehicle was registered to Wolverhampton.
At around 11pm officers then located a woman nearby, Gordon, on the B4228 near to the entrance of Stowfield Quarry, with two suitcases at the side of the road.
Due to the late time of night they were initially concerned for Gordon's welfare, however this soon turned into suspicions and she tried to stop officers from opening the two suitcases.
A dismembered and burnt body was found within and 28-year-old Gordon was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken into police custody.
Following an initial investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary's MCIT she was soon charged with murder and remanded in custody.
The case was then handed to West Midlands Police as it was determined Phoenix had been murdered at an address in Salisbury Road, Birmingham.
Colleagues in West Midlands Police carried out an extensive CCTV trawl which tracked Gordon for a month prior. This revealed a series of calculated and organised actions where she had tried to convince people Phoenix was alive, while also taking steps to dispose of her body.
It was found Gordon had made several trips to Coleford in a car and by train, had arranged for waste disposal companies to collect carpet and possessions and had ordered industrial strength bleach online.
She also used Phoenix's phone to send messages to her family, friends and a housing officer telling them she was fine and going back to London.
It is thought Phoenix was killed on 16 April, weeks before she was discovered. She had suffered multiple stab wounds.
On 21 April Gordon pleaded guilty to Phoenix's murder and was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today, Tuesday 4 May.
Detective Chief Inspector John Turner, who led the initial investigation in Gloucestershire, said: "I can only hope that today's sentence will give Phoenix's family and friends some kind of comfort as they try and come to terms with their loss and our thoughts remain with them.
"This has been an extremely distressing investigation which not only impacted the officers who first attended the scene, but also all of those who have been involved in the complex case since that day.
"The officers who attended that night were presented with a set of truly horrific circumstances and if it wasn’t for their inquisitive nature I believe we may not have ever found Phoenix's body.
"As the investigation unfolded it became clear that Gordon had come up with an elaborate plan in order to try and hide her abhorrent actions. She is truly the most callous, calculating and evil person I have ever dealt with.
"This was a painstaking case with meticulous work from both forces which resulted in Gordon pleading guilty, saving Phoenix’s family further distress of hearing the case in court.
"I would like to thank my colleagues in both forces for their determination and hard work throughout – their tenacity has ensured Gordon is behind bars for her horrific and heartless crimes."
Detective Superintendent Scott Griffiths, who led the investigation for West Midlands Police, said: "My thoughts remain with the family and friends of Phoenix, she was a much-loved young woman whose life was tragically cut short by the sickening actions of Gordon.
"The details of this very sad case are extremely distressing for everyone who knew Phoenix. It was also difficult for the officers working on this case from both police forces.
"The callous and calculating actions of Gordon after she had killed Phoenix are deeply concerning. She went to great lengths to pretend Phoenix was still alive and had moved out of the area, as well as great efforts to dispose of her body, hoping her despicable crime would go unnoticed.
"Gordon did plead guilty to the murder which has saved Phoenix's family the pain and distress of a court trial, however I imagine their loss and knowing what happened is incomprehensible. I admire their courage, patience and dignity throughout and hope today's sentence offers some solace as they try to come to terms with this tragedy."