Port Harcourt serial killer Gracious David-West sentenced to death

Serial killer Gracious David-West has been sentenced to death by hanging. He murdered Maureen Ewuru, Jennifer Nwokocha, Blessing Effiong ,Linda Warifa Samuel, Dorcas Francis, Kelechi Bridget Onuoha, Rose Samuel, Anthonia Ibe and attempted to murder Benita Etim.

Prosecutors say 40-year-old Gracious David-West strangled his victims in hotel rooms across Nigeria between July and September 2019.

Justice Adolphus Enebeli said he is to die by hanging.

The death penalty is not commonly carried out in Nigeria – the last three executions were in 2016.

One of his victims,Benita Etim who survived the attack, was not a witness during the trial,as authorities couldn’t place her whereabouts, despite being told not to leave the state.

The judge found him guilty of attempted murder on that charge.

Police say that he confessed to the murders of the six other women elsewhere but he was not charged for those murders for lack of evidence.

Authorities say the pattern of the murders point to a serial killing – he had sex with his victims before binding their arms and feet with strips of white sheets.

He also used sheets to strangle them, the court heard and several of his victims were sex workers.

At the beginning of the case and unrepresented by a counsel, David-West had pleaded guilty to the murders but the judge demanded a trial because of the “gravity of the crime”.

At the time, authorities had suspected that he was working with accomplices but could not find any evidence as the case went to trial.

At the height of the killings in September last year, outraged citizens of Port Harcourt took to the streets, calling on authorities to solve the murders.

He was arrested on 19 September while trying to leave Port Harcourt as investigators closed in on him.

CCTV had captured him leaving a hotel and the circulated photo went viral on social media.

Security agents found him in a commercial bus travelling to Uyo in Akwa Ibom state, 45 minutes away from Port Harcourt.

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