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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Life term for Thai masseur killer
Niphan Trikhana
Mr Trikhana was known as Nikki
A man described by a judge as "sadistic" has been jailed for life for the murder of a Thai male masseur.

Darren Johnson, 29, from London, strangled and stabbed Niphan Trikhana at his flat in Chelsea in July 2004.

Johnson led a gang which targeted sex workers who sold their services in classified advertising publications.

Accomplices Muhammed Nduka, 26, and a 27-year-old, who cannot be named, were also jailed for life and Thomas Girmay, 21, was jailed for 11 years.

Johnson and his gang targeted a vulnerable victim
Judge Jeremy Roberts

The gang would trick their way into their victims' homes and "torture" them before stealing their earnings, the court was told.

Mr Trikhana, 32, who arrived from Bangkok in 2001 and was known as "Nikki", had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck before being strangled.

Judge Jeremy Roberts said Johnson was a sadistic individual who had shown no remorse since his arrest.

Darren Johnson
Darren Johnson "showed no mercy"
"Mr Johnson and his gang targeted a vulnerable victim," he said. "The robbery was carefully planned.

"The gang tricked their way into the victim's flat where they mercilessly tortured him and subjected him to a great deal of physical and mental suffering before he died."

The gang preyed on sex workers because they were unlikely to go to the police, the jury heard.

In an attempt to evade justice, Johnson tried to lay the blame on his younger brother Daniel, who suffers from learning difficulties, the judge said. But evidence proved he was not involved.

Johnson, of Battersea, south London, was told he would serve a minimum of 35 years for the murder.

Muhammed Nduka (left) and Thomas Girmay
The gang assaulted and robbed sex workers
Nduka, of Camberwell, south London, was told he would serve a minimum prison term of 22 years.

The 27-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was handed a sentence of at least 23 years in jail.

Girmay, of Forest Hill, south London, was jailed for 11 years after being found guilty of taking part in another robbery of a prostitute.

He was convicted of robbery and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.


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