11 October 2022, 17:38 | Updated: 11 October 2022, 17:39
Mee Kuen Chong’s body was found in woodland.
A British property developer appeared in court on Tuesday accused of murdering and decapitating a Malaysian pensioner in London, before driving 250 miles to dump her body in Devon.
Jemma Mitchell, 38, allegedly murdered Mee Kuen Chong, 67, after an argument about money. She denies the charge.
Ms Chong, who lived in Wembley in north-west London for more than 30 years, was reported missing on June 11 last year, before her headless body was found in Salcombe in Devon by a family on holiday.
The court heard how Ms Chong had agreed to invest £200,000 in Ms Mitchell’s home, before backing out of the deal.
Ms Mitchell had a degree in human sciences from King’s College London, which she completed in 2004.
Prosecutor Deanna Heer KC said: “During her degree course, she completed a module called the Structural Basis of Human Function in which she was taught how to dissect the entire human body, with the exception of the head and neck.
“She also completed an additional special study course in Experimental Anatomy.”
Ms Heer told how the victim’s body was found by a woman out for a walk with her family on Sunday, June 27 last year.
“As they walked back to their holiday cottage from the beach, they made a gruesome discovery – the headless body of a woman.”
When she found the remains on a public footpath, the woman called police, the area was cordoned off.
The head was discovered four days later around ten metres away further down the hill in undergrowth.
A post-mortem examination was unable to determine the cause of death due to the degree of decomposition, Ms Heer said. However, the torso appeared to have been cut and there were signs of assault, with a skull fracture suggesting “significant impact by a blunt object very shortly before death”.
Ms Heer said Mitchell made friends with the victim through church and had visited her on the day she went missing.
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She told jurors: “Although they were friendly, the evidence suggests that they had recently fallen out over money.” Shortly after 1pm that day, Mitchell was allegedly captured on CCTV walking from Ms Chong’s house with two suitcases. Ms Heer said: “The larger of the two was obviously very heavy and difficult to manoeuvre.
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“It is the prosecution case that it contained the body of Mee Kuen Chong.”
It is alleged Mitchell then travelled to Salcombe with the suitcase on June 26 in a rented grey Volvo.
The vehicle was allegedly captured on CCTV driving towards the area of woodland where Ms Chong’s body was found the next day.
At the time of the killing, Mitchell was living with her mother at a family home in Brent, north west London, which was in a state of disrepair. The property had no roof and was covered in scaffolding due to an ill-fated renovation project, jurors were told.
Ms Chong was described as vulnerable and prone to erratic behaviour. Last year, her mental state deteriorated and she was referred to the local community mental health team because she kept sending letters to the then-Prince Charles and Boris Johnson, jurors heard.
Devout Christian Mitchell had allegedly discussed with the victim her will and who would inherit her house. In one email, Ms Chong allegedly told the defendant: “I am honoured to have you as my sister, accept me as your friend and advise me…”
It is claimed the victim agreed to hand over £200,000 to help with Mitchell’s house repairs but later had a change of heart.
Ms Mitchell denies murdering Ms Chong on a date between June 10 and 27 last year.
The trial continues.