Died 24th May 2013
Margery Gilbey (88), known as Madge, died on 24th May 2013 in her care home in Sonali Gardens, Sutton Street, Shadwell, East London. A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as strangulation and a stab wound to the neck.
In November 2013, Imran Douglas (18) pleaded guilty to her murder. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.
Margery Gilbey was a well-known former cafe cook, described as an “old-fashioned East Ender”. Her son Alan (55) from nearby Bethnal Green, said she was a wonderful mother, the “kindest most gentle person”, who was loved by all who knew her. He added: “I can’t believe what has happened. She was a wonderful person and mother. She was very straightforward and kind – she had old-fashioned East End values. Everywhere she lived she was well-liked. The staff at the sheltered accommodation loved her and they have no blame for what happened. Now I just need to mourn. All this is just sinking in.”
Ms Gilbey had nursing care in first-floor accommodation because she had dementia and difficulty walking on her own. In the last few years she had been almost entirely confined to her bed.
Ms Gilbey was found covered in blood after Douglas, a convicted thief, ransacked her room, strangled her, stabbed her in the neck and left her to die in her bed. It was a crime described by a judge as “wholly gratuitous”.
Police were called at just after 4.30pm to reports of a burglary. A nurse walking past Ms Gilbey’s room spotted that her door, usually open, was closed. When she looked through the letterbox and saw him in the room, Douglas clambered over the balcony and escaped in a car waiting nearby. Ms Gilbey’s son Alan visited at that moment with her favourite fish and chip supper just as staff were raising the alarm. Together he and the care assistants found his mother already dead in her bed.
The Old Bailey heard Douglas went to Ms Gilbey’s flat with the intention of killing her.
After fatally wounding her, Douglas rummaged through her drawers with blood on his hands.
Imran Douglas was 17 when he killed Ms Gilbey. He had been expelled from six schools and had been put in a children’s home in Bow East London just days earlier.
Douglas made a reconnaissance trip to the flat the day before the murder, the court heard.
He tricked his way into the building pretending to be the grandson of a resident, then returned to his children’s home. The next day he gained access in the same way and headed straight to Ms Gilbey’s flat.
Detectives identified him on CCTV and went to the children’s home the same day. There they found his clothes covered in blood in a laundry basket, and a bag on his bed which had Ms Gilbey’s blood on it. Douglas initially denied murder, but changed his plea to guilty on the first day of his trial when faced with overwhelming evidence. He had previously been granted anonymity because of his age.
The court heard social services failed to heed warnings from Douglas’s own father that he was a danger. Judge John Bevan QC told him: “Clearly you have significant problems controlling your anger, and it is a tragedy that social services totally failed to have regard to the reality of the extreme danger you posed in May this year and will continue to pose in the future. It is in my judgement, and sadly, a crime at the top end of the scale of gravity. You used a knife to attack a defenceless and vulnerable old lady in the privacy of her own home, on premises you must have seen to be sheltered accommodation. You could have burgled her to her heart’s content without doing what you did. It seems you were observed being driven away in a car but you lack the courage to name your accomplice. You rooted through her property after stabbing her, leaving her blood on her wardrobe. It was wholly gratuitous and, I fear, callous.”
Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn said: “Margery was killed as she lay in her own bed, in a place where she should have been safe. To see such violence used against a defenceless, elderly lady was truly shocking.” He added “Only Douglas can explain why an attempted burglary had to end in murder. I would like to pay testimony to Margery’s family who have demonstrated incredible dignity throughout this difficult process.”
Ms Gilbey’s son did not attend court. He said: “Although I would clearly love to attend sentencing to see justice done for my mother, I cannot. If I were to see Imran Douglas in person, it would make him real to me. He would haunt me and I know those momentary flashes would be unbearable.”
Note: This report was drawn from reports in the Mail Online and Murder Maps.