A tenant living next-door to a man accused of murdering Lorraine Cox in Exeter reported an ‘awful’ smell, ‘like a dead animal’, in the building in days after she disappeared.
Azam Mangori, aged 24, of Mary Arches Street, Exeter – also known as Christopher Mayer – denies murdering Lorraine Cox. He has pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful burial of her body.
The jury at Exeter Crown Court on Friday (March 5) heard from a witness who described an ‘overwhelming’ smell when Mangori opened his bedroom door several days after Miss Cox went missing.
He described the same odour coming from an outside bin at the accommodation above the Bodrum kebab shop.
The jury has also heard from the landlord of the building, who said he spotted Mangori carrying three half-full bin bags and a sports holdall down from his room before getting into a waiting taxi.
Mangori had earlier learned police were reviewing CCTV from the premises.
And the court heard how the defendant returned from his taxi trip looking ‘scared and shocked’ and had to be calmed down with a drink of water.
Chef Ibrahim Kardo, from London, who was staying in a room at the building, told the jury of the odour coming from the side of the accommodation where Mangori lived.
He told the court he believed the ‘terrible’ smell coincided with Mangori opening his bedroom door.
Mr Kardo said Mangori approached him ‘three or four’ days after Miss Cox was last seen in the early hours of September 1 last year, asking when the rubbish bins outside would be emptied.
He said: “The smell was overwhelming, like a dead animal left under the sun. It was awful.”
Mr Kardo added: “There was a bad smell coming in. I don’t know if it was his room, but it was that side.”
The witness said he had opened the door to his own room and the strength of the smell had prompted him to shout loudly in English to the other Bodrum building residents, asking them where it was coming from.
The court heard how Mr Kardo had noticed the same odour when he put out a bin bag in the alleyway the following morning.
Mr Kardo said: “When I first had that smell I asked in English loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘This smell, where is it coming from?’ But nobody answered. There was nobody around.
“Then I opened my window to get the fresh air in. But when I went back the smell was gone.”
Bodrum kebab shop owner Ali Sadighimaman told the court he rented-out four rooms on the second floor of the building and the defendant had been living there for around five weeks.
He said he rarely spoke to or saw Mangori, whose accommodation had been arranged by an acquaintance who paid his rent and acted as his guarantor.
Mr Sadighimaman told the court that he saw Mangori take a long, blue sports bag into a waiting taxi after learning police were looking at CCTV from the building in relation to a missing woman.
He also said he overheard an angry phone conversation on the same day where Mangori’s boss was heard asking where the defendant was, when he was returning and why he was ‘at the riverside’.
Mr Sadighimaman said: “He had three bin bags and a long, blue bag on his back. When he saw me, he left them on the stairs on the floor and I thought he must have forgotten something and he went back upstairs.
“There was a knock, it was taxi. A young lady knocked on the door and said, ‘Have you ordered a taxi?’.”
“When he came back, he was scared and shocked. He was shaking and we didn’t realise what was going on. We gave him water to calm him down. He was white, really white.”
Miss Cox was last seen alive with Mangori in the early hours of September 1, 2020, going into the Bodrum kebab shop building, where the defendant had a room.
The trial has heard how she had been walking alone through the city centre at night after a night out with friends when Mangori ‘homed in’ on her.
Simon Laws QC, prosecuting, said Mangori took a drunken Miss Cox to his room above the kebab shop where he is accuse of killing her before cutting up her body and disposing of it in bins and woodland.
The trial continues…