Life sentence for Fore Street killer

Brian Sengendo kidnapped Therasia Gordon from Edmonton and later killed her

Killer Brian Sengendo (credit Met Police)
Killer Brian Sengendo (credit Met Police)

A man who murdered one woman and came within a “hair’s breadth” of killing another has been sentenced to life in prison.

Brian Sengendo, aged 27 from Enfield Wash, will spend at least 42 years of his life in jail after being sentenced at the Old Bailey today (Friday).

Sengendo was previously found guilty of carrying out a four-hour campaign of sexual assault and violence which culminated in the murder of 44-year-old Therasia Gordon, a sex worker from Edmonton, on 4th August 2020.

Earlier the same evening he had kidnapped two other sex workers, one of whom he raped and stabbed seven times, narrowly avoiding catastrophic injury. Both women managed to escape by jumping out of his van as it was moving.

The judge said Sengendo was a proven liar and manipulator who had been motivated by a perverted sexual desire. He also commended the “outstanding teamwork” of uniformed officers and detectives, who led a “highly skilled” investigation and showed professionalism and hard work above and beyond their duty.

Murder victim Therasia Gordon
Murder victim Therasia Gordon

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, who led the investigation, said: “There is no doubt that Sengendo is an extremely dangerous man and he will now spend most if not all of his life in jail.

“We are pleased with the sentence passed down today but it is only a small comfort for Therasia’s family, especially her mum Jan who spoke in court about the devastating impact this has had on her and her family. She will never get over what happened to her daughter and our thoughts will always remain with her.

“This was a complex investigation and as the judge suggested, it is likely Sengendo would likely have committed further crimes if not for the determination and skill of the officers working on this case. They used all of the resources and technology at their disposal to identify him, track him down and gather the key evidence which left the jury with no doubt that he was responsible for Therasia’s murder. Our streets are safer thanks to them.”

The judge singled out PC Chris Hough, who carried out extensive CCTV enquiries, for providing the evidence that left the jury with no doubt as to Sengendo’s guilt.

Originally provided with just a partial number plate from a witness who had seen a man striking at someone through the door of a van, PC Hough and his team used automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to identify that a white van matching that description had been cruising around the Enfield area that evening. Although DVLA records did not have details of the current owner, police records showed that a couple of weeks earlier it had been reported as abandoned in Gilbert Street, Enfield Wash.

Officers travelled to the location where they recovered doorbell footage showing that on 15th July, a slim, young black man got into the van and drove it away. Their quick work meant that just hours after the first offence had been reported, detectives had an image of their main suspect and had circulated this via police systems in an attempt to identify him.

Even once Sengendo was identified and in custody, the team continued their CCTV trawl in order to gather vital evidence. Officers meticulously tracking Sengendo’s van across Enfield realised that it was captured by one camera at 1.23am on Tuesday, 4th August, but did not reach the next camera, which was just 500m away, until 1.41am. This led them to question what he had been doing in that 18-minute period where his van was effectively missing from view.

The team travelled to the location and examined the large area between the two cameras. One of the officers spotted a narrow rural lane and a 250-metre driveway that led to a gated house. Acting on a detective’s hunch, and thinking it was a possibility Sengendo may have disposed of items linking him to the crime in this area, they began a search of the scene.

As they did so, one of the occupants of the house came out to say that she had found a phone a month earlier and left it on a fence in case anyone came to collect it. Remarkably, the phone was still there and officers took it to be downloaded. This revealed it was Sengendo’s phone and proved that he was in the area close to where Therasia’s body was found on the night of her death.

A significant amount of time was also put into establishing whether Sengendo had committed any other offences. This included the examination of digital devices, further ANPR work, and checking there were no hits of his fingerprints and DNA on national databases

Detectives from the homicide team also worked closely with officers from Operation Boxter, the local specialist unit in Enfield dedicated to safeguarding sex workers and ensuring they feel confident to report crimes to police. Together with partners including the Salvation Army, they walked the streets to directly engage with sex workers and to gather any information that could be helpful to the investigation and to ensure that women were protected from any further harm.

Therasia’s mother Jan said: “I am always thinking about what Therasia must have gone through when she died. Listening to the evidence in court has been heartbreaking. One of the things that keeps on going through my head is the evidence that one of the witnesses could hear her groaning. I can’t get the thought of her being in pain at his hands out of my head.

“I can’t understand why this man made my family live through Theresia’s murder day after day through a long and difficult crown court trial. He knew what he had done but continued to make my family suffer.

“As a family, we will never get over the fact that I have lost a daughter and they have lost their sibling. I will never come to terms with what this person did to my child. He has left a big hole in my heart.”