Vanessa Santillan's Husband Guilty of Her Murder in Fulham Flat
Gomez Hernandez jailed for 14 and a half years for killing transgender escort wife
The husband of transgender escort Vanessa Santillan has been found guilty of her murder in a Fulham flat.
Joaquin Gomez Hernandez, 24, of Landridge Road killed Vanessa Santillan, 33, at her home in Romily Court, Fulham on Saturday, March 28.
He was sentenced on Tuesday October 20 to 14 and a half years' imprisonment.
The Old Bailey heard how officers were called to the address by London Ambulance Service at 9.30pm after the defendant had flagged down an ambulance. Vanessa was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination held at Fulham Mortuary gave the cause of death as blunt force trauma injuries to the head and neck.
The Old Bailey heard how the couple moved to the UK from Mexico two months before her death.
Gomez Hernandez and his wife had been out the night before she was found dead. The couple had gone to West End clubs with friends before returning to their flat in Fulham where they all continued to drink and socialise.
Early in the morning of 28 March, Vanessa, who worked as an escort, was contacted by a client and arranged to meet him at her home address.
Gomez Hernandez would later confront them both in the bedroom before leaving the room. He was then seen by friends crying in the kitchen. One witness described to the court how his mood then changed and he became more serious.
The court heard that Gomez Hernandez was unemployed and relied on his wife's income to buy clothes and food. According to friends, he resented the dependency he had on his partner and feared losing her.
He would later admit to having an argument with his wife later that day when they were alone together in their flat. It was the prosecution case that this argument resulted in him inflicting fatal blunt force trauma injuries on Vanessa.
Gomez Hernandez then left the flat at about 2.45pm, taking cash from the deceased and using this to buy a new phone, and to pay for a visit to escorts for sex.
He returned to his friends' flat several hours later and claimed that he had tried to call his wife but she was not answering. When he eventually did enter the flat, he suggested to police and friends that a client must have killed her.
However, phone records showed that he had not made any phone calls to her and in fact he had taken both her phone and his with him when he left the flat in the afternoon. Gomez Hernandez also had fresh scratches on his face which he could not sensibly explain. He was arrested on suspicion of murder and later charged.
Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Reeves, who led the investigation, said: "Vanessa was murdered by her husband but, because she was a sex worker, he seems to have believed he could cover up his responsibility by trying to point the finger at a client. But the narrative he presented of an attack by a stranger did not stand up to scrutiny.
"My team of detectives were able to unravel a very complicated set of circumstances and piece together events leading up to Vanessa's death. I hope today's verdict goes some way to helping Vanessa's family cope with the loss of their sister and daughter."
A family impact statement was considered by the court, in which Vanessa's family said:
"Vanessa's death has had a very big effect on all of us, each one of us in a very important way. Her death is irreparable and has taken a member of the family from us. This loss cannot be remedied or changed. It is something that has greatly affected us and hurts a lot.
"Without doubt it will change our lives, our family will never be the same again without Vanessa, we cannot stop thinking how unjust her death was."
The jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty in this case. The judge, the Common Sergeant of London, proceeded directly to sentencing the defendant to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 14 and a half years.
The judge, in his sentencing comments said to the court and the defendant: "Vanessa had extensive head injuries and suffered manual strangulation. You (Joaquin Gomez Hernandez) left her on the floor, naked from the waist down; You then engaged in a pretence and lied to the police about the injuries to your face.
"This was a sustained attack and Vanessa lost her life in her own flat and you made no attempt to summon help. Your subsequent conduct - taking Vanessa's property including money and telephones and visiting prostitutes after the attack - was callous in the extreme."
Romily Court, off Landridge Road
Miss Santillan called herself "one in a million" on her website, writing about travelling around the world and going on high fashion shopping sprees. In a recent entry she said of her stay in London: " I’m a Ts girl visiting from MIAMI FL.
"I am looking to meet upscale, respectable gentlemen, of a certain calibre, who know how to treat a lady like me."
October 21, 2015