Man guilty of murder, Exeter
A 23-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of Lorraine Cox in Exeter.
Azam Mangori killed 32-year-old Miss Cox in his room above a kebab shop after homing in on her as she walked alone through the city centre in the early hours.
He kept her body for several days before dismembering it and disposing of remains in an alleyway and woodland.
Mangori used his victim’s phone SIM card and Facebook account to pose as her in an attempt to dupe her family and friends into thinking she was safe.
He was caught on CCTV making several shopping trips to buy bin bags, plastic sheeting and tape in the days after Miss Cox’s death.
Mangori, also known as Christopher Mayer, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of murder by a jury at Exeter Crown Court following a five-week trial.
He admitted preventing the lawful burial of Miss Cox’s body.
The defendant will be sentenced on Wednesday 7 April.
Mangori’s conviction is the result of a large-scale investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police which involved 1,813 exhibits, 232 officers and staff, and 738 statements.
Some 10,800 hours of CCTV, from more than 400 camera across 120 sites, was seized as part of the enquiries.
Miss Cox had been walking home alone in the early hours of 1 September, 2020, after spending the bank holiday drinking with friends.
She was approached by the defendant, a complete stranger, in High Street and the two went back to Mangori’s room in Mary Arches Street.
This was the last time Miss Cox was seen alive. It is not known how she died at the hands of Mangori, but evidence suggests she was either suffocated or strangled.
The killer spent the following week trying to cover up his crime. He made several trips to city shops where he bought bin bags, plastic sheeting, tape, an air purifier, air fresheners and a hand trowel.
Mangori used his victim’s SIM card and Facebook account and impersonated her; telling loved-ones she was OK and planning to move to Plymouth.
Miss Cox was reported missing by her family on 3 September.
Police CCTV enquiries led them to Mangori on September 8.
He was initially arrested on suspicion of kidnap when officers found he had been using Miss Cox’s SIM card in his phone.
Mangori was charged with murder when body parts were found wrapped in bin liners in an alleyway behind the building in which he was staying.
Detectives soon discovered Mangori had taken a taxi to Tinpit Hill, near Newton St Cyres, and buried remains in woodland.
Officers also found Miss Cox’s belongings – including her rucksack, clothing, diabetes kit and phone – thrown away in the alleyway.
Her cut-up driving licence and bank card, minus their identifying features, were discovered in Mangori’s kitchen bin along with her wallet.
Miss Cox’s SIM card was found in the drain beneath the building.
The court heard Mangori made videos of himself vaping and listening to music for online friends while Miss Cox’s body was just feet away on his bed.
He also sold a keyboard, and was described as calm and charming, as his victim lay dead in his room.
Mangori looked at online content relating to amputation and how to dig a grave by hand, the jury heard.
Officers searched through 154GB of extracted data from the defendant’s phone – the equivalent of 15million pages of A4 – as part of their enquiries.
This included 70,000 images and 6,500 videos.
Mangori, from Kurdistan in northern Iraq and whose application for asylum in the UK was rejected in December 2018, denied murder.
Detective Sergeant Samantha Wenham, of Devon and Cornwall Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Today’s verdict finding Azam Mangori guilty of Lorraine Cox’s Murder, in addition with the previous guilty plea to preventing a lawful burial, is welcomed by Devon and Cornwall Police.
“This investigation has involved close to 300 specialist investigators and experts covering extensive lines of enquiry, including searches, forensics, CCTV and mobile phone examination.
“In the immediate aftermath of killing Lorraine, Mangori has tried his hardest to manipulate those closest to her and provide misinformation and misdirection in order to get away with these horrendous crimes.
“Crimes that were committed against a vulnerable woman walking home from an evening with friends.
“I would like to thank all those who have supported the investigation and criminal justice process by providing statements, CCTV, copies of personal messages and the disruption to their businesses.
“I’d also like to thank my colleagues within the police and our partner agencies for their tireless pursuit of justice for Lorraine Cox.”
Assistant Chief Constable Jim Colwell added: “The murder of Lorraine Cox was callous and brutal in its nature and details of the crime revealed at court will have disturbed many of our communities.
“The way in which Azam Mangori exploited Lorraine’s vulnerability before murdering her and dismembering her body is a deeply disturbing crime.
“Violence against anyone, especially a vulnerable woman like Lorraine, is abhorrent and Devon and Cornwall Police will always do the utmost to identify and bring offenders to justice.
“Our officers have a duty to protect all of our communities, but especially those most vulnerable within them.
“Devon and Cornwall Police, along with many parts of our society, is currently reflecting on the highlighting of threats many women and girls feel on a daily basis.
“We need to understand and listen to those in our communities who say they do not feel safe and come together to change any culture of fear which may exist.”
Helen Phillips, a senior crown prosecutor for the CPS, said: “Azam Mangori killed Lorraine Cox then callously disposed of her body, faking messages to maintain the lie that she was still alive and giving false hope to her family and friends. He continued his lies throughout the investigation and trial, and still refuses to reveal the location of her remains.
“This was a complex case which saw the police and CPS working closely together from an early stage of the investigation.
“Huge amounts of forensic and digital evidence were analysed and the investigation led overseas to Iraq and Germany.
“Thanks to the excellent work of Devon and Cornwall Police, the CPS were able to build a compelling case that led to today’s guilty verdict.
“The CPS and police are committed to working together to deliver justice for the victims of violent crime. Our thoughts are with Lorraine’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Lorraine Cox’s family has issued the following statement: “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.
“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.”