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5 August 2019, 17:04 | Updated: 5 August 2019, 17:06
A man has been found guilty of the murder of midwifery student Joy Morgan.
20-year-old Joy, from Battersea, lived in Hatfield where she studied at the University of Hertfordshire and she was last seen in Ilford on 26 December 2018.
Today, Shohfah-El Israel aged 40, of Fordwych Road, London, was found guilty of her murder at Reading Crown Court. He has been served a life sentence with a minimum of 17 years.
The court heard how Joy and Israel both attended the same church in Ilford and became close friends, with Israel regularly giving Joy lifts to and from church. It was at a church celebration on Boxing Day last year that Joy was last seen.
Joy was due to stay at Israel’s home with his family after the celebration but after arriving at the property in Luton, Bedfordshire, decided that she wanted to go back to her university accommodation in Hatfield. Israel agreed to give her a lift back.
Joy was not seen since and her bank account has never been accessed again. She never returned to her student accommodation. Her flatmates later reported that her clean washing hadn’t been taken out of the washing machine and this was seen to be out of character for her.
On 28 December, Joy’s phone number left the church WhatsApp group which caused concern.
Joy was reported missing on 7 February 2019 and an extensive police investigation began, led by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire (BCH) Major Crime Unit. Joy’s family took park in local and national media appeals but sadly no evidence was found to suggest that she was alive.
Video footage of Joy dancing at a church celebration was uncovered by police and suggested that Joy was a happy young woman, enjoying life and being part of the church community. Despite Joy’s number leaving the church WhatsApp group, police found no reliable indications that she wanted to leave the church, suggesting that her number had been removed by someone using her phone.
The police investigation found that Israel’s vehicle was in the Hatfield area on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and Joy’s phone became active again in the same area for a very short time before finally going off the network.
On 9 February 2019, Israel was arrested on suspicion of murder. He was subsequently re-arrested on 26 February and charged the following day.
Israel’s red and black Honda vehicle was seized and in the passenger footwell, officers found Joy’s keys to her accommodation.
Despite extensive searches carried out by specialist teams, Joy’s body has sadly never been found.
Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins, from the BCH Major Crime Unit, said: “I am glad that the jury have come to this decision. Joy’s family have been through the most unimaginable turmoil and continue to do so and have missed poignant milestones such as her 21st birthday and her final year of university. I would like to commend their bravery in attending the trial and their determination to try and find Joy. While the trial has concluded, I would like to remind the public that Joy’s body has not been found yet and anyone with information should still get in touch with us so that we can help give Joy’s family some closure. If you have any information, no matter how small it might seem, please call us on 101.”
Joy’s mother Carol Morgan said: “Joy was such a wonderful person, selfless, caring and so many other great qualities that I can’t list them all. She was loved by so many. She was a loving daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and god daughter and god mother…….we all loved her so much. She was her big brother’s little helper and an all-round great helper to all of us. She would always look after me when I came home from a long shift and cooked us lovely home cooked meals. Joy was living her dream of university life. She had one year left to go at university to become a midwife. Joy was a natural at it as she was such a caring woman and I know she would have made an amazing midwife. She was my shining light and my super star.”