Couple sentenced to life in prison for ‘bad’ manslaughter

A couple have been jailed for life for murdering a widower whose body was hidden and never found in an “evil” act of deception.

Frank McKeever, 62, disappeared after visiting his stepdaughter Surie Suksiri at her home in Highbury, north London, on the evening of August 28, 2021.

While there, he was photographed in a “humiliating” position and forced to confess on video to assaulting Suksiri as a child, saying she “deserved to be punished”.

He was then subjected to a “painful” and “protracted” death before his body was dumped in a remote location, the Old Bailey was told.

On Monday, Suksiri, 32, and her ex-boyfriend Juned Sheikh, 48, were jailed for life after being found guilty of murdering Mr McKeever and preventing his lawful burial.

Sheikh, who had 16 previous convictions, including assault and robbery, was given a minimum sentence of 24 years, with Suksiri saying she will spend at least 18 years behind bars.

Judge Anthony Bate said: “Frank McKeever willingly went to visit the defendants. He expected to be welcomed as before and treated with the respect that every visitor deserves. Events took a sinister turn in this confined residential environment.”

After Mr McKeever was killed, the defendants lied about what happened and hid his body in an “evil and sustained ruse”.

The judge said it was a “serious affront to public standards of decency” and meant the family could not let him rest.

Earlier, the victim's older brother Dominic McKeever said the trial had been “long and painful” and the family had been denied the chance to give “happy” Mr McKeever the “loved goodbye” he deserved.

Reading his statement to the court, he said: “In the summer of 2021, Frank began a new, positive chapter in his life. He's been busy making plans to move home, enjoying exploring London with his new freedom pass and reconnecting with us, his siblings, much to our delight.

“Frank had a lot to live for. That bright future was cruelly and casually taken away from him and from us.”

The family were “thrilled” with confirmation from police that there was no evidence that allegations of abuse against Mr McKeever were true.

But it only added to the pain and “dignity” of his death, with his brother adding: “At times it felt like Frank was on trial.”

In mitigation, Allison Hunter KC said Suksiri was vulnerable and had a low IQ and high alcohol intake.

He said Sukiri had no desire to cause further pain to Mr McKeever's loved ones and would tell the authorities where his body was if he could.

Prosecutor Catherine Patterson told the court the victim's confession was “staged”.

He said: “We do not yet know the exact cause of Mr McKeever's death. However, we call on the court to be satisfied that he suffered significant and sustained violence and suffered a painful, protracted and humiliating death.”

Previously, the court was told Suksiri sent a 47-second WhatsApp video to Sheikh's sister about an hour after Mr McKeever arrived at her home on the night of his murder.

In it, Suksiri said “start” off-camera before Mr McKeever spoke to the camera in a “flat tone” and admitted assaulting her when she was six.

After taking the video, the defendants killed Mr McKeever, disposing of his body a few days later, the court heard.

Giving evidence, Suksiri denied harming her stepfather and accused her partner of injuring him with repeated elbow strikes.

After realizing he was dead, she admitted to dumping Mr McKeever's body, but could only remember it being next to a motorway because Sheikh had driven them to the spot.

He told jurors they dragged the body out of the car and Sheikh covered it with branches.

Sheikh refused to answer questions after his arrest and chose not to testify during the trial.

Mr McKeever's disappearance was noticed because he was due to complete a house swap with a couple, who reported him missing after losing contact.

Suksiri claimed she had not spoken to her stepfather for 20 years.

But on September 2 he pawned three of his rings for £200, jurors heard.

Her sister-in-law raised concerns with social services, who contacted the police after Suksiri told her about the recorded confession and sent her the video on WhatsApp.

Conversations Suksiri had with an undercover police officer last year after he was released under investigation were played in court.

They made a detailed, unequivocal confession about the killing to Sheikh, the prosecution said.

Suksiri and Sheikh, from Camberwell in south London, have denied the charges against them.

After their convictions earlier in November, Sheikh reacted angrily and told jurors to “rot in hell”.