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Man arrested over murder of Cricklewood mother

Published 11/10/2015

Usha Patel was found dead at her home in Cricklewood, north-west London (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
Usha Patel was found dead at her home in Cricklewood, north-west London (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

Detectives investigating the murder of a mother found dead at the home she shared with her young son have arrested a man.

Scotland Yard launched an appeal to trace Miles Donnelly, also known as Miles Ryan, after the body of Usha Patel, 44, was discovered at her flat in Cricklewood, north-west London, on Thursday morning.

Donnelly, 34, was arrested on suspicion of murder by officers in Paddington, central London, this morning.

He has been taken to a north London police station where he remains in custody.

A post-mortem examination found Ms Patel died from "strangulation", a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

Neighbours expressed shock at the death and paid tribute to Ms Patel, who they said was a full-time carer for her young autistic son.

The boy, thought to be aged five, was seen holding the hand of a police community support officer outside his home after the body was found.

One neighbour, who would only give his name as Tony, 76, said: "I feel very sorry for her son. There was a young PCSO entertaining the kid. He was humouring the boy in the police car by starting the engine and letting him play with the steering wheel."

Tony's partner Belinda added: "A copper walked past holding him by the hand."

Another neighbour, who lived in the flat below Ms Patel, said he heard someone enter the building on Thursday morning and noticed her front door was ajar when he left for work.

Police officers said her son had been taken to a "safe place" following the discovery of the body, he added.

Another man, who did not wish to be named, said: "She was hippy looking. She was like a female John Lennon. Very jolly and bubbly. She had a happy look about her."

Neighbour Sali Aboudali, 42, said her child went to school with Ms Patel's son and he would spend weekends with his father.

"She was a very nice lady," she said. "She invited me to a Zumba class. She was very friendly. All the neighbours listened to her singing.

"Her son depended on her for everything. She said he had autism."

A man thought to be the boy's grandfather attended the property on Thursday after police discovered Ms Patel's body, Ms Aboudali added.

Neighbours said Ms Patel had lived for about nine years at her home in Melrose Avenue, which is in a semi-detached building containing three flats.

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