On 17 September 2020, a drug dealer by the name of Jean Loeike Guei was found dead on Mitcham Common. His body was on fire. He had been killed two days earlier inside the flat of another drug dealer named Raphael Kokkinos. Present with Kokkinos when Guei arrived at that flat shortly after midday on 15 September was only one other person, namely Benoni Thomas.
Guei died from being beaten and probably asphyxiated inside Kokkinos’ flat. Thomas left the flat some minutes after Guei’s arrival. In the following minutes, Kokkinos sent Thomas a number of text messages, including asking whether he was okay and saying that he would call him later. Within an hour, Thomas ceased using his two mobile phone numbers. When Thomas was arrested, he declined to answer any questions in interview. The clothing he has been wearing on the day of Guei’s death was not found by the police.
Kokkinos and Thomas were initially charged with Guei’s murder, later amended to a charge of manslaughter. Kokkinos pleaded guilty to that offence. Thomas’ denied that he had played any part in Guei’s death; his case was that Kokkinos alone must have killed Guei after he had left the flat; the Crown alleged that it was a joint enterprise between the two of them. Thomas did not give evidence in his 8-week trial.
After 6 days of deliberation, the jury acquitted Thomas of manslaughter.
Ali Bajwa QC and Charlotte Godber, instructed by Clovis Ilunga at Thompson & Co Solicitors, represented Benoni Thomas.
The case has been widely reported in the press and can be accessed here.