Inquest into murdered midwifery student fails to establish cause of death

Joy Morgan was murdered by a fellow member of her church

An inquest into the death of midwifery student Joy Morgan has failed to establish how she died.

The body of 20-year-old Joy Morgan was discovered in woodland in Stevenage on October 5 2019 - two months after married father Shofah-El Israel was jailed for life for her murder.

Even after being jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years, Israel refused to reveal the location of her body. Joy's remains were eventually found, wrapped in bin bags, bound up with gaffer tape and covered with a mound of logs in Norton Green by a dog walker.

Joy was identified through DNA testing.

Shofah El-Israel refused to reveal where he had hidden the body of Joy Morgan

An inquest at Hatfield Coroner's Court heard there was no blunt or sharp force trauma to the body that would indicate how she had been killed in late December 2018.

Nor was there any evidence of compression to the neck and associated bruising and pinpoint haemorrhages consistent with strangulation, or any evidence of sexual assault.

Pathologist Charlotte Randall said there was damage to the hyoid bone in the neck, but could not rule out this being due to the body's state of decomposition.

Samples taken from Ms Morgan's liver and muscles revealed the presence of the party drug MDMA in her system, although it was impossible to determine the amount.

Police: Unlikely devout christian would have taken illegal drugs

Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins said there was no evidence to indicate the devout Christian would have voluntarily or knowingly taken illegal drugs.

Ms Jenkins, of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit,said:

She was a church goer, there is nothing to suggest (she took drugs) at all. We did however find MDMA in Israel's car, and it is likely that he was responsible for giving her these drugs.

Det Insp Justine Jenkins

Dr Randall said the post-mortem examination could not rule out suffocation as a cause of death, potentially following milder blunt force trauma to the head that may have rendered her unconscious.

Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said: "(The MDMA) is not something that she would have taken and one can't exclude that she was given that and it in some way rendered her incapable or unconscious."

Recording a conclusion of unlawful killing, he said Ms Morgan's disappearance and the efforts to conceal her body "strongly suggest her death was caused by the actions of another person".

She was a committed member of the Israel United in Christ Church in Ilford, east London, running several of its childcare groups and the sewing club.

She was last seen on Boxing Day 2018 after a celebratory dinner with the congregation, after which Israel and his wife offered her a lift home.

Israel, whose birth name is Ajibola Shogbamimu, claimed he dropped her off at her student accommodation in Hatfield.

He later admitted he had spent two nights alone with the University of Hertfordshire student in his flat in Cricklewood, north-west London. The family home he shared with his wife and children was in Luton, the court heard.

But Israel claimed his lies were due to concerns about having broken church rules banning women from being alone with men other than their husbands.

During his trial, Reading Crown Court heard that a signal from Ms Morgan's phone, which has never been found, was detected in Israel's car in the Stevenage area on December 28.

The keys to her accommodation were discovered in the footwell of his car after his arrest in February 2019.

She was eventually reported missing by her mother Carol on February 7 after she was contacted by the student accommodation provider to say she had fallen behind on her rent.

After Israel's conviction, Carol Morgan appealed to him to tell her where he had hidden the body, pleading with him to "give my baby back".

Speaking after the inquest, she described her daughter as "an amazing person", adding: "She's been cremated, I haven't decided where to put her ashes so at the moment she's still at home with me."