Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 16:44 UK

Leicester solicitor murder accused 'left DNA behind'

Vina Patel
Vina Patel was a partner in a Leicester firm of solicitors

An alleged hitman insisted he had never met the solicitor he is accused of killing even though his DNA was found on her hand, a court heard.

Brian Farrell, 37, of Queensborough Terrace, west London, denies killing Vina Patel at her office in Leicester.

It is alleged he was hired by Mrs Patel's business partner John Cort, 54, of Rutland Street, Leicester, who stood to gain £1.5m from insurance.

Mr Farrell said his DNA could have been left behind after visiting the office.

The body of Vina Patel, 51, was found at the foot of the stairs at Cort and Co solicitors in Blackbird Road on 15 January 2009.

'Missing £650,000'

Nottingham Crown Court heard Mr Farrell's DNA was found on her right hand - with the chances of the DNA belonging to anyone else being a billion to one.

John Cort
Mr Cort's clients' accounts were missing 650,000, the court heard

He told police he had had sex with Mr Cort in the office in the month before the death, the court heard, and his DNA could have been accidentally transferred.

Mr Cort was heavily in debt following lavish spending, the court was told.

The jury heard that, after his arrest, the Solicitors' Regulation Authority discovered £650,000 was missing from his clients' accounts.

Timothy Spencer QC, prosecuting, said Cort had kept the money himself.

It is alleged he hired Mr Farrell to murder Mrs Patel and make it look like an accident so he could claim £1.5m from a business insurance policy taken out on her life.

The trial continues.

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