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Couple who drugged and stole from people on dating sites convicted after victim overdosed

Father of two Eric Michels tragically died from a drug overdose. 

A man from Manor Park and his partner, who drugged and stole from gay men they met on dating sites, have been found guilty of various offences after one victim died from an overdose. 

Brandon Dunbar, 24, of Romford Road, Manor Park, and his partner Gerald Matovu, 26, of Southwark, targeted 12 gay men over 19 months by arranging to meet them on sites like Grindr. 

They would drug their victims to the point of unconsciousness and steal their property, along with taking pictures of their bank cards. 

Father of two and HR Executive, Eric Michels, aged 52, died after being given a fatal overdose of GBL, which converts into GHB in the body, on Friday, 17 August, 2018. 

Brandon Dunbar (left) and Gerald Matovu

Eric brought Matovu back to his home after a night out in London. By around 6.45am, Eric had either died or passed out and Matovu had begun taking photographs of his bank cards.

Eric’s son Sam was asleep at the time. He left the house at around 9am unaware of what had happened to his father. Two hours later, Matovu fled the scene with a briefcase belonging to Eric. 

CCTV footage shows Matovu leaving his hostel to meet Eric on the night of his murder. The two of them are then seen shopping at a store in Waterloo Road. Both criminals are later shown using his bank card. The final clip displays them leaving his house with a suitcase. 

On the following Sunday, a 27-year-old man was invited to Dunbar’s address in Romford Road where he and the victim took drugs and had sex.

He and Matovu drugged the victim, who was later found naked and lying in rubbish bags outside Dunbar’s apartment. Police found several of the victims belongings in Dunbar’s apartment and connected the incident to several others, including the death of Mr Michels. 

Matovu has been found guilty of his murder at the Old Bailey on Monday, 15 July. 

Both men were also convicted of multiple counts of administering a poison with intent to endanger life, fraud, and theft. They will both be sentenced on Thursday, 5 September.

The pair targeted men between the ages of 20 and 61 during the period between December 2016 and July 2018. 

Police statement: 

“Matovu and Dunbar had a well-rehearsed plan to take advantage of men they met through social networking sites and apps such as Grindr to steal their property, ” said Detective Inspector, Mark Richards.

“This was their overwhelming motive, rather than sexual assault. Matovu described himself in evidence as a hustler, a liar and a thief – apt words.

“Their method in the majority of cases was to drug their victim with enough GBL to render them unconscious so they could then search their homes, selecting items of interest and photographing bank cards and personal documents for subsequent fraudulent use. They did this at their leisure, sometimes spending hours at an address.

“But Mr Michels was different – Matovu gave him a fatal dose of GBL. Despicably, while Mr Michels lay dead or dying, Matovu raided his address of many of his belongings, leaving his devastated family to find his body the following day.

“Just three days later Matovu and Dunbar targeted another man at Dunbar’s flat. When he was no longer of use to them, they dragged his prone naked body out into the street and abandoned him on a pile of rubbish bags.

“Attending officers were quickly able to join those two events together, and enquiries then revealed a whole host of other victims. Matovu and Dunbar had done very little to cover their tracks, their only focus moving onto their next victim and what else they could steal. There is every chance there are more victims out there – please have the confidence to come forward and report this or any similar crime to us.”

Sam Michels’ statement:

“Ordinary people cannot begin to understand why you would do the things that you have done and how you can show no remorse for any of your actions. As we have unfortunately learned throughout this trial, you are evidently very far from ordinary, decent and hardworking people.

“You have taken away someone who gave so much more than you have given, cared so much more than you care, respected people and was indisputably successful throughout his life. You have taken away my immediate family and left me alone in the home that I shared with my Dad. A home that we had worked on together since we moved in.

“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. He talked about these things regularly and was so excited for the future.

“To me, my Dad had the answers to everything and he was always the first person I would call for advice. He was everything to me, and I am completely and utterly lost without him. I use to call him to tell him about what I was doing, or a new achievement. He was always able to make me feel so proud of myself. He can never, ever be replaced.

“I now struggle with the stress of having to grow up so much quicker than I ever expected to. I feel like I cannot enjoy being young and having fun with my friends like I used to. My responsibilities are way beyond anyone my age and that is so daunting to me every day. If I go away for a short period of time, I am always greeted with an unwanted level of stress on my return – if he was here, this would not be the case.

“Alongside us, his children, my father was also loved by our large extended family. I have struggled so much having to see my grandparents fall to pieces accepting the loss of their only son. His sister, cousins and friends are all distraught having had an angel taken from them. Losing Dad affects so many people, not just us.

“My mother has had to take on a different level of responsibility that she shouldn’t have had. She has now had to become mum and dad while trying to pick up the pieces herself. She loved my father dearly and their relationship had stayed strong despite their divorce.

“Sitting in court and listening to lies about my father has made me feel physically sick at times. We knew him better than anyone, and hearing the defendant accuse my father of rape was soul destroying. He was gentle and caring and would never do such a thing.

“I have also had to experience both of the defendants laugh and smile as we enter the court room, as if they have something to be proud of. On multiple occasions while giving evidence, Mr Matovu turned to us and grinned. This only tells me about the type of person he is. His lack of empathy or respect for anyone else in unimaginable…

“…I am so proud of my father and I will continue to be until I die. He made such an impact on my life that can never be forgotten. He deserves nothing but justice for what happened to him last year.”

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of Matovu and Dunbar’s crimes, or any other similar incident, can contact police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the charity Galop here or via their Shoutline on 020 7704 2040.

Galop has information about meeting people online and personal safety here. There is also good advice about meeting people via apps here

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