‘Coward’ killer jailed for life for murder of woman who tried to help him

A cowardly killer who beat to death a mother-of-four over a “trivial” row after she let him into her home has been jailed for life.

Gavin Lewis, 41, flew into a rage and murdered Sandra Samuels, 44, after she had given him shelter at her Hackney flat.

Lewis inflicted a series of brutal injuries, including stamping on Ms Samuels’ head, before dumping her lifeless body in a cupboard.

He tried to pin the blame on a former partner of Ms Samuels, but admitted murder at the Old Bailey once shown footage of himself leaving the flat just after the murder.

Lewis stayed in his prison cell and missed today’s Old Bailey sentencing hearing, saying in a letter: “I have chosen to do what all cowards do, which is to hide from my judgment.”

Judge Nigel Lickley QC sentencing Lewis to life in prison with a minimum of 23 years behind bars, condemning him for the “monstrous” killing.

“You subjected Sandra Samuels to a brutal and sustained attack in her own home”, he said. “It was a place where she was entitled to to think she was safe.”

He said Ms Samuels was “a small woman, 5ft 1ins, a little over six stone, and she used a stick to aid walking”.

“She was a small, slight woman unable to fend off a man of your stature and strength”, said the judge.

“You subjected her to a terrible ordeal and a truly terrible attack.”

The court heard Ms Samuels, a mother-of-four and grandmother, had offered Lewis a place to stay on several occasions prior to the murder on August 29 last year.

CCTV recorded the two arriving at Ms Samuels’ home at 4.50pm on the day of the killing, with Lewis alone leaving around 20 minutes later, locking the security gate behind him.

He was bare-chested and clutching a holdall as well as Ms Samuels’ keys, heading to a square nearby where people who saw him say he was in a “good mood”.

Police discovered he had used Ms Samuels’ phone later in the day, and tried to cover up his involvement in the killing by washing his shoes.

Ms Samuels’ body was discovered two days later when friends raised the alarm. Her body had been hidden under household items including a duvet.

Lewis later revealed he had been looking for some of his possessions at Ms Samuels’ home, believing they had been stolen by others, and flew into a rage when she said she was too busy to help him.

He told the court she “did nothing whatsoever to justify in any sense what happened”.

Lewis has a history of violence towards women, serving prison sentences for a violent robbery on two women in 2002, an attack with a wine bottle on a friend in 2011, and punching a girlfriend repeatedly in 2013.

When arrested over the murder of Ms Samuels, he angrily denied involvement and threatened to kill one of the female police officers.

Lewis, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to murder on the second day of his trial.

*story by Evening Standard