A man has been found guilty of murdering an intoxicated woman after coming across her by chance as she walked home from a night out.
Azam Mangori killed Lorraine Cox before dismembering her body in his room above a kebab shop and hiding the remains in bins near his home and in a woodland.
The defendant, 24, came across his 32-year-old victim while she was walking alone in Exeter city centre sometime after 1.30am on September 1 last year.
The court heard he could have suffocated her with her own T-shirt, which was found in her mouth.
Miss Cox’s disappearance led to a major police investigation in the city in early September 2020.
The Iraqi national cut her body into seven pieces over the course of a week and disposed of her clothing and possessions.
After murdering Miss Cox, Mangori used her SIM card in his mobile phone to pretend she was alive and well to family and friends.
They reported her missing to the police.
Following a trial at Exeter Crown Court, Mangori, of no fixed address, was convicted today of murder by a jury after six hours of deliberations.
He had previously admitted a separate charge of preventing Miss Cox’s lawful burial.
During the trial, witnesses living and working at the Bodrum Kebab House told how they heard and saw nothing unusual on the night of the killing.
Mangori kept the body in his flat for a week before taking a taxi journey to woods.
A forensic scientist used DNA profiling to link Miss Cox to Mangori's flat but a toxicologist could not establish how exactly she had died.
She had been drinking with friends on the quay and at The Arcade pub before beginning her journey home on foot.
She did not know Mangori but CCTV shows the pair meeting near the junction of Sidwell Street and High Street in the city centre.
The defendant claimed that he panicked after Miss Cox, a diabetic, died suddenly in his flat.
He claimed he did not call 999 because where he grew up that was not what people did.
The defendant said he could not make sense of what had happened and suffered some sort of breakdown and did not know what to do.
Mr Justice Garnham adjourned the case until 2pm on Wednesday next week for sentencing.
Ms Cox’s family released a statement following the verdict – the first time they have spoken about the tragic death.
They said: “This will be the first time the family have spoken publicly since the traumatic loss of Lorraine, the most kind-hearted, loving generous girl – the heartbeat of our family.
“As I am sure you can all appreciate, the last seven months have been a very difficult time.
“The five weeks that this trial has run its course have been both mentally and emotionally exhausting.
“With that in mind, we have not been able to put a comment together about the case yet.
“We feel it's right that we take a bit of time to reflect on what has been a complex case and to think about everything, and offer any thoughts that we as a family feel might need to be addressed.
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“We hope and pray that no other woman or family has to go through what our beautiful girl suffered, or that any other family suffers the brutal, distressing experience we have all been through.
“But, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and beyond for being by our side.
“We could not be more grateful for the help on everything from searches, the designing, printing and distribution of missing person posters, through to the overwhelming moral support in the form of many hundreds of empathetic messages, both publicly and privately, and the never-ending supply of home-cooked meals that literally kept us going, and for keeping Lorraine's name on the tip of everyone's tongue and her face at the forefront of everybody's minds through social media and word-of-mouth at what was a heart-breaking time.
“Sadly, we will never be able to see Lorraine alive again, but we couldn't have asked for more from the public and we shall be forever grateful for their continued help and support, both during and after this period.
“Nothing will ever repair the broken hearts the family suffer every day and will for the rest of our lives.
“Finally, the family would like to say, with not a single confirmed sighting, we believe the actions and collective spirit of the many, mostly nameless, heroes is ultimately the reason we had a body to lay to rest.
“For that, we will be forever thankful.
“We would like to say thank you for the fact that, even in these most tragic of circumstances, with the help and support of ISCA funeral directors and the mind-blowing generosity of the JustGiving page, we were at least able to give Lorraine a beautiful service.
“Thank you all.”
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