New photos of a homeless woman who was sawn in half at a refuge have emerged as a suspect accused of assisting an offender in the case has been pictured for the first time since his bail release.
Phoenix Netts, whose charred and dismembered body was found in suitcases in a Gloucestershire forest, is said to have been killed in a row over drugs at the hostel where she had been living for a number of months.
Suspect Gareeca Gordon, 27, who was charged with Phoenix’s murder last week, lived in the room next door at the seven-bed house in multiple occupation (HMO) in the Lozells area of Birmingham.
Father-of-two Mahesh Sorathiya, 38, from Wolverhampton was charged with assisting an offender and granted bail. He was today seen at Wolverhampton central police station to sign on under his strict bail conditions
Police say the victim had been ‘sawed in half’ before being burned.
Now pictures have emerged of Phoenix with a friend from university, named Fawn, who said she was ‘such a lovely person’ who ‘would give you her last penny’.
She said: ‘It makes me sick that somebody could kill her and then cut her body up.
‘Phoenix was a kind and considerate woman.
‘We had great times at university. But she did have mental health issues and when I spoke to her about eight months ago on Facebook, she wasn’t in a good place.
‘But I am so saddened at what has happened to her.’
Mahesh Sorathiya (pictured), 38, was charged with assisting an offender and granted bail. Suspect Gareeca Gordon, 27, was charged with Phoenix’s murder last week
Phoenix Netts, pictured right, is believed to have been killed in a row over drugs at the hostel where she had been living for a number of months. Left is her university friend Fawn, who said: ‘She was such a lovely person’
Phoenix’s friend Fawn (both pictured) said she ‘did have mental health issues, and when I spoke to her about eight months ago on Facebook, she wasn’t in a good place’
Now pictures have emerged of Phoenix with a friend from university, named Fawn, who said she was ‘such a lovely person’ who ‘would give you her last penny’
Phoenix was killed at the women’s refuge in Lozells, Birmingham, where she had been living for a number of months. Pictured is Sorathiya, 38, from Wolverhampton, at Wolverhampton central police station today
Police pictured searching the woodland in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, where the girl’s charred and dismembered body was found in suitcases last week
Phoenix’s former boyfriend, speaking exclusively to MailOnline, said the 28-year-old was ‘always vulnerable and easy to exploit’ after her troubled youth, when she was raped by a drug dealer, and believed it was her fragility that led her to a refuge
Phoenix was killed at the women’s refuge in Lozells, Birmingham, where she had been living for a number of months.
Her body was found in two suitcases in the Forest of Dean.
Her ex-boyfriend Joe, who asked for his surname to be withheld and speaking from his new base in Toronto, Canada, said: ‘She seemed damaged and rightly so.
‘We went out while we were at Canterbury Christ Church University and she was there between 2009 and 2011, but she didn’t graduate. She told me and one other friend of hers that she had been raped by a drug dealer.
‘Phoenix was kind and quiet, but also vulnerable. She didn’t have a great childhood after her parents had split up.
Phoenix, above, grew up in Croydon, south London and later moved to the Midlands where an aunt lived. It is believed she moved into the women’s refuge at the end of last year
Phoenix Netts, pictured right, 28, had ended her dream of becoming a paramedic after dropping out of university and falling into drugs, it can today be revealed by MailOnline
‘She used to love Louis Theroux documentaries and I remember her joking about getting a T-shirt saying ‘We’re gonna get Theroux this.”
Before university Phoenix fell into drugs and dated a dealer, regularly smoking marijuana before she started taking acid, cocaine and MDMA.
Phoenix, above, 28. Her former boyfriend said they dated at Canterbury Christ Church University while she was there between 2009 and 2011
Joe said: ‘I was ignorant to peoples’ mental health at the time, so I wouldn’t have been able to analyse then as I can now. But she seemed damaged, and rightly so, by the trauma she went through.
‘I don’t know which way her life went after we split up, but it clearly went south. She never expressed any interest in kids or getting married.
‘Phoenix mostly lived in the past and a little in the moment. She spent the majority of the time stoned. She barely ate anything. I am not sure if that was linked to post-traumatic stress disorder.
‘She was vulnerable and clearly experienced the dark side of the world that not many people would realise is there.
‘But she still showed compassion and empathy to others.’
Phoenix grew up in Croydon, south London and later moved to the Midlands where an aunt lived.
It is believed she moved into the women’s refuge at the end of last year.
Father-of-two Mahesh Sorathiya (right), 38, from Wolverhampton was charged with assisting an offender in Phoenix’s (left) murder and granted bail
Phoenix, above, was described by her ex-boyfriend Joe as ‘kind and quiet, but also vulnerable’. He added: ‘She used to love Louis Theroux documentaries’
A court heard how the woman accused of killing her returned to the Forest of Dean four times to dispose of the body.
Bristol Crown Court was told that Sorathiya was paid to drive Gordon from a women’s refuge in Birmingham to the Forest of Dean four times between April 24 and May 12.
James Ward QC, prosecuting, said: ‘He was the driver, admittedly, of a Vauxhall Zafira in which the body parts were contained and he says he had no knowledge of the parts.
‘The police were involved in the first place in stopping his car because of the Covid-19 regulations. The police said in their evidence the smell from the suitcases was obvious.
Police, pictured in woodland next to Stowfield Quarry in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, searched the area for several days looking for evidence during the investigation
Police launched a major operation after discovering the suitcases containing body parts. A court heard how the woman accused of killing her returned to the forest four times
‘When they opened the suitcases, the police said it smelled of barbecue and the smell was sickening from the decomposition.’
Eugene Hickey, defending, said Sorathiya, a father of two, had no idea of the contents of the suitcases in the back seat, adding: ‘His account is that he was on Gumtree as a driver and handyman.
‘On a few occasions he has done journeys where he has been paid by [Gordon] to take her to the Forest of Dean.’
Mr Justice Garnham set a provisional trial date of November 10. He granted Sorathiya bail.
A statement released on behalf of the victim’s family said: ‘As a family we are devastated with what has happened to Phoenix.
A map, pictured, shows where Sorathiya and Gordon were arrested by police following the grim discovery in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, last week
Forensic tents, pictured. The quarry is on Staunton Road and the closed section also contains a fishery, a former sawmill which now contains storage units, several houses and a campsite
Police searched a women’s refuge in Birmingham where they believe Phoenix was murdered. Gloucestershire police said cause of death was not determined by a post mortem
‘We ask most humbly that our family’s privacy is respected whilst we grieve and come to terms with the loss of Phoenix in such tragic circumstances.
‘Whilst we understand this is a news story, we hope everyone can understand why we need to be left alone at this very difficult time.
‘We have family and good friends supporting us and our thanks go out to all of them. We would also like to thank all the police officers involved in the investigation for their hard work and sensitivity.’
West Midlands police said: ‘Exactly where Phoenix was killed is still unknown and officers continue to follow up a number of enquiries in a bid to establish what happened.
‘Our specialist family liaison officers are working with the family at this devastating time.’
Gloucestershire police said the cause of death had not been determined by a post mortem and further examinations were ongoing.