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Jailed: Thugs who drugged gay men and tortured naked victim in Forest Gate

PUBLISHED: 15:58 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:35 12 September 2019

Brandon Dunbar... drugged and tortured gay victims and robbed them, jailed 18 years for 23 offences. Picture: Met Police

Brandon Dunbar... drugged and tortured gay victims and robbed them, jailed 18 years for 23 offences. Picture: Met Police

MPS

Two thugs who plotted to drug gay men and steal their bank cards have been jailed for almost 50 years between them for 61 offences, including one of murder.

Gerry Matovu... jailed for life, 31 years minimum, for Eric Michels' murder and 38 other offences. Picture: Met PoliceGerry Matovu... jailed for life, 31 years minimum, for Eric Michels' murder and 38 other offences. Picture: Met Police

Brandon Dunbar drugged and tortured one of his victims in his flat in Romford Road, Forest Gate before dumping him naked and unconscious in the street on a pile of rubbish.

He was jailed for 18 years on Wednesday, September 11, with a further five years' parole at the end.

Dunbar was found guilty at his Old Bailey trial in July on 23 charges including fraud, theft and administering a poison with intent to endanger life.

Gerry Matovu, from Bermondsey, was sentenced to life with a minimum 31 years for the murder of 52-year-old business executive Eric Michels and 38 other offences.

Eric Michels... loving father-of-two murdered in his home by Matovu. Picture: Met PoliceEric Michels... loving father-of-two murdered in his home by Matovu. Picture: Met Police

"The pair had a well-rehearsed plan to meet men through social networking sites and steal their property," Det Insp Mark Richards said after the court case.

"Their method was to drug their victim to render them unconscious so they could search their homes, stealing items and photograph bank cards to use in fraud later."

But father-of-two Eric was given a fatal dose on August 19 last year.

"Matovu despicably raided his home while he lay dying, leaving his devastated family to find his body the following day," the detective added.

Det Insp Mark Richards... Det Insp Mark Richards... "Matovu despicably raided the victim's home while he lay dying, leaving his devastated family to find his body." Picture: Met Police

Family members found Eric's body. An empty syringe was by the bed which police forensics found had traces of DNA belonging to both Eric and Matovu.

A call made to Eric's stolen mobile phone by his daughter was traced to the Bermondsey area where Matovu lived.

But it was Eric's bank card that led detectives to Forest Gate three days later — while other police were investigating an incident of a naked man found unconscious outside Dunbar's flat.

Dunbar and Matovu had targeted their 12th victim, a 27-year-old man they invited to the flat in Romford Road where they laced his drink with drugs that disorientated him, assaulted him with a syringe which caused him to pass out, then dragged him naked onto the street.

"You have taken away all the lessons my dad was yet to teach me and the experiences he deserved as a father, like meeting his grandchildren and walking his daughter down the aisle"

Sam Mitchels, victim impact statement read in court

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But the pair had done "very little to cover their tracks", it emerged during the trial.

What brought detectives to Forest Gate was Matovu using Mr Michels' stolen bank card to transfer £300 to Dunbar's own bank account to buy more drugs.

Mr Michels had arranged to meet Matovu in Bermondsey and take a cab back to his home in Chessington.

Matovu and Dunbar on spending spree using murder victim Eric Michel's stolen bank card. Picture: Met PoliceMatovu and Dunbar on spending spree using murder victim Eric Michel's stolen bank card. Picture: Met Police

That's where Matovu slipped him the drug, then photographed his bank cards when he was unconscious or dead.

He fled the murder scene the next morning in a cab, stealing Eric's bank cards and mobile phone.

Detectives tracing the bank transfer arrived at Dunbar's flat to find other officers investigating the naked man incident a few hours earlier.

A blowtorch was found in the flat, believed to have been used to torture the man.

Stay safe online

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of Matovu and Dunbar’s crimes or any similar incident is being urged to contact police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the charity Galop’s helpline on 020 7704 2040.

Information on personal safety when dating online is on the Galop website, or advice on staying safe if dating via apps.

Advice includes trust your instincts, that if something doesn’t feel right to cut off contact or leave or ask them to leave. Tell a friend or relative if you arrange a date and meet in a public place and keep an eye on drinks.

Matovu was found in Dunbar's flat with Mr Michels' phone and was searched. A container filled with a drug was in his pocket, the same drug used on Eric and seven other victims.

Eric's 21-year-old son Sam Michels said in a victim impact statement read in front of Dunbar and Matovu in the dock: "Ordinary people cannot begin to understand why you would do these things and how you can show no remorse.

"You have taken away my immediate family and left me alone in the home that I shared with my dad.

"You have taken away all the lessons my dad was yet to teach me and all the experiences he deserved as a father, like meeting his grandchildren and walking his daughter down the aisle.

"I now struggle with the stress of having to grow up so much quicker than I ever expected to. My responsibilities are way beyond anyone my age.

"My grandparents fall to pieces accepting the loss of their only son. His sister, cousins and friends have had an angel taken from them.

"My father deserves nothing but justice for what happened to him."

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