A “callous, calculating and evil” woman who murdered and dismembered her vulnerable friend after she rebuffed her sexual advances has been jailed for life.
Gareeca Gordon, 28, stabbed Phoenix Netts in the accommodation where they both lived in Lozells, Birmingham, on April 16 last year.
Ms Netts could have survived the four stab wounds to her chest and torso but Gordon refused to call the emergency services and left her to die for up to 12 hours.
During that time, Gordon used the mobile phone of Ms Netts to make internet searches including “how to fix punctured lung”, “internal bleeding” and “can someone recover from getting stabbed”.
She purchased a circular saw on Gumtree and arranged for it to be delivered to their home on April 17, using it to dismember the body of Ms Netts, which she placed in two suitcases.
Gordon spent weeks attempting to dispose of evidence relating to the murder, as well as deceiving the friends and family of Ms Netts by impersonating her in text messages, emails and voice recordings.
On May 12 last year, a member of the public reported a vehicle driving in the Coleford area of the Forest of Dean during the coronavirus lockdown when only essential travel was permitted.
Officers arrested Gordon after finding her near a quarry with two suitcases, which were opened and found to contain human remains.
Mrs Justice Cutts sentenced Gordon, who previously admitted murder, to life imprisonment and ordered her to serve a minimum of 23 years and six months in prison.
The judge described Ms Netts as a “deeply loved” person who had been planning to move back to live with her parents in London before her death but had been delayed by coronavirus restrictions.
“A fresh start was ahead of her,” the judge told Gordon.
“You robbed her of that fresh start.
“You took her from the supportive parents who loved and cherished her.”
Gordon had “demanded sex” from Ms Netts in the weeks before the murder and became physically aggressive, pushing her around the room when she refused, the judge said.
“There’s no doubt you were pressing Ms Netts for sex in the days and weeks leading up to the murder,” she added.
The judge described Gordon as a “very dangerous young woman” and said her failure to seek medical attention for Ms Netts caused “considerable physical and mental suffering”.
“You were aware she was seriously injured and might not recover yet you deliberately did nothing about it,” she told Gordon.
“She must have been very frightened and suffered a great deal in those hours before she died.”
Gordon’s efforts to impersonate Ms Netts and convince family and friends that she was alive and well were “wicked and callous”, the judge said.
“The fact her parents were communicating with their daughter’s murderer rather than her has caused them indescribable anguish,” she told Gordon.
“Her father speaks of how this will haunt them forever and how both suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Andrew Smith QC, prosecuting, told the court Gordon had previously demanded sex with Ms Netts and became “aggressive” when she said no.
In a message sent to a friend days before the murder, Ms Netts wrote: “There’s a girl here who keeps asking me to be sexual… it’s scaring me.”
Gordon made a call to the Samaritans on April 11 in which she describing “liking another woman and wanting to have sex with her”, Mr Smith said.
Ms Netts last spoke to a friend in a phone call in the early hours of April 16.
The exact time when Gordon attacked her is not known.
However, another woman living in the shared accommodation heard noises of drilling and banging from about 5.30am on April 16, as well as shouts of “help me, help me”.
A post-mortem examination found Ms Netts would not have died had she received prompt medical attention.
After dismembering Ms Nett’s body, Gordon made several trips to the Forest of Dean and attempted to burn the remains in woodland.
She made further internet searches such as “how do killers get caught?” and “can a body burn to ashes with petrol?”.
The bed, mattress, carpet and underlay had been removed but blood staining was found in the living area, kitchen and shower.
Police discovered the circular saw used to dismember Ms Netts in Gordon’s room.
Andrew Langdon QC, representing Gordon, said his client has a personality disorder, a low tolerance to frustration and struggles with perceived rejection.
He read extracts of a letter to the court from Gordon’s mother, describing how she was “eternally sorry” for what her daughter had done.
She described Gordon, who was born in Jamaica and moved to England aged seven, as a “ticking timebomb” at the time of the murder due to her mental state and a lack of support.
Gordon had experienced traumas in her life but was “not a bad person at heart”, her mother said.
Mr Langdon said the attack on Ms Netts was not premeditated and did not involve sexual assault.
In a statement issued through West Midlands Police after the sentencing, the family of Ms Netts said they had “finally got justice”.
“Phoenix was entirely blameless.
“I hope that this is now clear to everyone.
“She was the victim of a senseless act of violence which ended her life at a young age,” they said.
“She was greatly loved by her family and we cared for her very much.”
Detective Chief Inspector John Turner, of Gloucestershire Police, said Gordon had come up with an “elaborate plan in order to try and hide her abhorrent actions”.
“She is truly the most callous, calculating and evil person I have ever dealt with,” he said.