Drugs baron back behind bars after assaulting ex-partner

A convicted drugs baron from Sheffield is back behind bars after beating his ex-partner, who says she feels badly let down by the justice system.

Tuesday, 7th May 2019, 11:07 am
Updated Friday, 10th May 2019, 12:59 pm

Earl Odeyemi, who grew up in Arbourthorne and on the Park Hill estate, was handed a life sentence in 2003 after being convicted of grievous bodily harm and dealing heroin and cocaine.

He was released on licence in 2015 and later spoke to The Star about his determination to go straight and repay his debt to the community he had ‘destroyed' by peddling ‘poison’.

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Earl Odeyemi

However, he now faces what could be another lengthy stretch behind bars after being convicted of repeatedly assaulting his ex-partner and mother of his children.

The 37-year-old, of Woodland Drive, in North Anston, Rotherham, admitted three counts of common assault and one count of actual bodily harm, and was sentenced at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on April 25 to six months imprisonment.

That would usually mean he could be out in as little as 13 weeks, but because he was on a life licence for a violent offence it is likely to be much longer before he is released, which will only happen if a review concludes he no longer poses a risk to society.

Earl Odeyemi

His ex-partner, who asked not to be named, says she feels let down by the justice system over the lack of support she has received since his release four years ago.

She is particularly angry at the probation service, which she claims betrayed her confidence after she got in touch to reveal Odeyemi was breaching the terms of his licence by failing to live at the address he had given.

A promise that she would not be revealed as the source of this information was broken, she says, and it was after this happened that she was assaulted on three separate occasions.

She says she was punched, strangled and hit with a lamp, knocking her unconscious, during a series of attacks which took place between February 22 and March 3 this year.

Although she did not suffer any lasting physical injuries, she claims the assaults have had a huge toll on her mental health.

The victim was assigned an independent domestic violence advisor (IDVA), but says she only spoke to this person twice on the phone and never got to meet them in person.

And she told how she was denied the chance to submit a victim personal statement, laying bare the impact of Odeyemi’s brutality on her physical and emotional wellbeing, because he unexpectedly changed his plea from innocent to guilty at the last minute.

She feels that, given his history, the case should have been dealt with at crown court, rather than by magistrates whose sentencing powers are usually limited to six months imprisonment.

Having initially been kept updated by the police witness care unit as the case progressed through the courts, she says it was left to her to chase up the outcome of the hearing on April 25.

“I feel I’ve been let down massively by the justice system, especially by probation, which didn’t safeguard me and my children one bit," she said.

“The mental impact on me and my children of what he’s done is horrific but I’ve been basically left to cope with it alone.

“Earl made his choices, and he chose to hurt me, but I feel he’s been let down by probation too.

“If his probation officer had listened and acted when I first said he wasn’t doing well then I wouldn’t have been attacked as badly as I was and he wouldn’t be facing a long time back in prison.”

The Star understands it is a legal requirement for recalled prisoners to be informed why they have been recalled, once they are in custody.

When Odeyemi was sentenced in 2003, Sheffield Crown Court heard how he had sadistically tortured a teenager he employed to look after a crack house he ran.

The 17-year-old victim, who had stolen money he believed was owed to him in unpaid wages, was repeatedly struck with an axe by Odeyemi, who then poured boiling water mixed with sugar over the wounds to intensify the pain.

The judge ordered him to serve a minimum of nine years behind bars but said he would never be released while he was still a danger to the public.

Speaking in July 2017, Odeyemi apologised for his crimes and said he was a changed man who was determined to atone for his wrongs by opening a restaurant where he would train ex-convicts and others in need of help.

He completed a catering course while in prison and attended Barnsley College, where he gained a distinction in patisserie, following his release.

According to his ex-partner, he made a number of doomed attempts to open his own restaurant, including setting up a short-lived food trailer near Sheffield’s FlyDSA Arena.

A spokesman for the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary said it didn’t comment on judges’ sentences but if someone thinks a sentence is too lenient they can appeal to the attorney general.

The Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for probation services, said it could not comment on individual cases.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) would not comment on the record.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “We take cases of domestic violence and assault extremely seriously and will always provide support and reassurance to victims, both while we investigate their case and beyond.

“In this case, the offender has gone through the judicial process and been sentenced by the courts. Following the outcome, the officer in the case has been in contact with the victim to address her concerns.

“As the victim lives outside the South Yorkshire force area, her home force will continue to provide support and safeguarding as she tries to move on with her life.”

The victim said she plans to submit an official complaint about how the probation service handled the case but has not yet done so.