A married father has been jailed for 17 years for murdering a student midwife who went to his church.
Shohfah-El Israel, 40, was convicted by a jury at Reading Crown Court of killing 20-year-old Joy Morgan.
Ms Morgan was last seen on 26 December at a church event in Ilford. Her body has never been found.
Judge Michael Soole said Israel’s “cruel and cowardly” refusal to reveal her whereabouts caused “continuing distress and suffering” to her family.
Sentencing Israel to life with a minimum of 17 years, the judge said: “Only you know the circumstances of your terrible deed and why you did it.
“You are evidently an intelligent man and have said nothing beyond the lies and the explanations which the jury has rejected.”
In a victim impact statement read out to the court her mother Carol Morgan described the Hertfordshire University student as her “shining light and my superstar”.
The court heard Israel had spent time alone with Ms Morgan, of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, in December, breaching church rules which banned women from being with men other than their husbands.
He initially told police he had dropped off Ms Morgan at her student accommodation in Hatfield after a celebratory dinner at the church, but later admitted she had spent two nights at his flat in Cricklewood in north-west London.
A signal from Ms Morgan’s phone, which has never been found, was detected in Israel’s car in the Stevenage area on 28 December.
He was “most likely looking for somewhere to dispose of the body”, prosecutors told the jury.
‘Loved by so many’
The keys to the student’s accommodation were found in the footwell of Israel’s car after his arrest in February.
Israel, who denied having sex with Ms Morgan, had sent her messages in March 2018 calling her “an amazing princess” and “a treasure that cannot be measured”.
Both were worshippers at the Israel United in Christ Church in Ilford, though Israel claimed Ms Morgan had been thinking of leaving.
The jury was not told Israel had allegedly had flirtatious exchanges with other church members before and after the student midwife’s disappearance, using lines from chat-up manuals.
Despite church members saying they were surprised at Ms Morgan’s apparent departure, they did not report her missing.
It was Ms Morgan’s mother, who is not a member of the church, who reported her disappearance to police on 7 February, six weeks after she was last seen.
In a victim impact statement her mother described the student midwife as “such a wonderful person, selfless, caring, loved by so many” who would have been “an amazing midwife”.
“She would always look after me when I came home after a long shift, cooking lovely home-cooked meals,” she added.
First published 05.08.19: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-49238518