COURTROOM DRAMA: A dispute over a girl, rather than fashion rivalry, triggered the murder of Harry Uzoka last week at the hands of fellow model George Koh and another man, Jonathan Okigbo. Both have been charged with the murder of 25-year-old Uzoka, who died Thursday near his home in the west London neighborhood of Shepherd’s Bush.
Both defendants, who are in prison, appeared via video camera for their first hearing at the Old Bailey, or central criminal court of England, on Thursday morning. A trial date has been set for July 9, and both defendants will have to enter a plea by April 4, the next time they’re set to appear in court. Koh has also been charged with possession of an offensive weapon, the knives he is accused of using in the attack.
The murder of Uzoka, who had modeled for brands including Alexander McQueen, Everlane and Margaret Howell, made headlines and caused a stir on social media, with the likes of Adwoa Aboah and Jourdan Dunn posting their condolences via social media. Uzoka, who was represented by Premier Model Management, died from stab wounds to the heart.
His death was initially thought to have been the result of a burglary gone wrong. The British papers later assumed it had stemmed from professional rivalry when it emerged that Koh was also a model. Koh has worked with brands including Alexander McQueen, Lanvin and Topman, according to his social media accounts.
The Sun and other British tabloids reported that Koh had modeled for Louis Vuitton, but that doesn’t appear to be true. While a spokesperson for the brand declined to comment, a source familiar with the company said that Koh never worked for the French label. In the past, he was represented by IMG, but no longer works with any modeling agencies.
On Thursday the female prosecutor said the dispute came about because of rivalry over a girl and that Uzoka and Koh had exchanged messages via Instagram about engaging in a fight to resolve it. Uzoka, the prosecutor said, had arrived with a friend and both carried metal pipes, while Koh, accompanied by Okigbo, carried two knives. A third, unnamed friend of Koh’s arrived with a machete-like knife, and it remains unclear whether he’s been apprehended.
She added that Koh, Okigbo and the third, unnamed assailant chased Uzoka, stabbing him three times in the heart. The prosecutor also said that Koh turned himself in to the police on Jan. 15, four days after the murder, and Koh stated he acted in self-defense. The prosecutor noted that Koh had prior offenses pertaining to drugs and assaulting police, while Okigbo had nine offenses.
A spokesman for Premier Model Management men’s division expressed his condolences about the death of Uzoka: “There is no way to describe how or why Harry was so special. He simply had the most infectious and fun personality. We shared so many amazing moments together. He would always come into the agency singing and dancing. Him and his wingman, Chuck Achike, were a mesmerizing duo and you always knew laughter was on the way when they entered the agency together. They were the most dynamic and amazing duo.”