A FedEx courier driver who stabbed his manager to death after being suspended from work has been jailed for life, with a minimum term of 27 years.

Ronald Sekanjako, 49 of Bellhouse Road, Sheffield, murdered deputy station manager Philip Woodcock, 60, at a FedEx depot in Hellaby, Rotherham, on 2 November 2022.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that Sekanjako had been called to a meeting with one of the warehouse managers, following concerns he had been filling up his work van with fuel at a local petrol station without having the means to pay. Sekanjako objected to these allegations and became irate, at which point Woodcock came to try and help.

The jury was told that as Woodcock took Sekanjako into his office to try to speak to him, Sekanjako slammed the door closed behind him, before stabbing the depot manager in the chest with a knife he had hidden in a jumper he was carrying. Officers later found a second knife concealed by Sekanjako in the office and a hammer concealed down his sock.

legal scales of justice

Despite the best efforts of colleagues at the FedEx warehouse on Rother Way in Hellaby, as well as police and ambulance staff, Woodcock was pronounced deceased at the scene. A post mortem examination later concluded that he died as a result of a stab wound to his heart.

Passing sentence today (13 November), Judge Graham Reeds KC, said Sekanjako had denied killing Mr Woodcock despite “overwhelming evidence” and had shown no remorse. He told the defendant Woodcock had been a family man who was looking forward to his retirement after a distinguished career.

He added: “He was entitled to look forward to the rest of his life, to enjoy it with family and friends. You snatched all of that away from him with your self-obsessed and brutal violence.” Judge Reeds also said there was “no mitigation I can see” and dismissed Sekanjako’s claims of discrimination as untrue and an attempt to “minimise the seriousness” of his actions.

Sekanjako showed no emotion when the sentence was passed. He was also sentenced to nine months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which will run concurrently. The court heard Sekanjako had a previous conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm from 2013.

In a statement read out in court, Woodcock’s son said he thought of his father every day, adding: “The best man I ever knew was snatched away in the prime of his life.” Woodcock’s wife said the details of her husband’s murder would “always haunt me.” She added; “Phil didn’t have a cruel illness or an unexpected accident. He went to work one day and never came home. He was murdered by a person he was trying to help.”

Following sentencing Detective Inspector Simon Cartwright, senior investigating officer in the case, said: “I am pleased that Sekanjako has been handed a significant jail term today which will see him spend a large portion of his life behind bars.

“Sekanjako has shown no guilt or emotion throughout the whole of the investigation and trial, and by failing to own up to his actions that November morning, he has made Philip’s heartbroken family and friends sit through a trial which saw the details of how he came to tragically lose his life told in detail.

“No one should ever go to work and not come home. Sekanjako took Philip’s future and plans for retirement away from him and all who loved him. No sentence will bring Philip back but I hope that the conclusion of the court proceedings today provides Philip’s family some closure as they try and move forward with their lives.”