A failed asylum seeker accused of murdering a woman in Exeter videoed himself vaping and listening to music as she lay dead just feet away on his bed, a court heard.
Jurors were told that Azam Mangori sent three clips – where a song by band ‘Chop Suey’ with the lyrics ‘angels deserve to die’ can be heard in the background – to online friends hours after he is alleged to have killed Lorraine Cox.
He went on to dismember the 32-year-old’s body and dumped her remains in alleyway bins and woodland.
Mangori, also known as Christopher Mayer, is on trial at Exeter Crown Court where he denies a charge of murder.
The 24-year-old, originally from from Kurdistan in northern Iraq, admits preventing the lawful burial of Miss Cox’s body.
He told the court on Wednesday, March 24, how he hoped she would ‘come back to life’ in the days after her death.
Mangori also refuted an accusation he had a ‘selective memory’ and was ‘pretending’ he could not remember certain events and details surrounding the case.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Simon Laws QC, the defendant denied killing Miss Cox in his bedroom above a kebab shop and spending the following week ‘trying to cover up his crime’.
Mr Laws said to him: “There are only two explanations over the death of Lorraine Cox.
“The first is she came back to your room and she died suddenly for some reason. The only other is that you killed her.”
Mangori replied: “Killing is literally impossible, no way, there is only one explanation.”
The court was shown CCTV footage of Mangori crossing the road in High Street in the early hours of September 1, 2020, and talking to Miss Cox – a complete stranger.
They subsequently had a sexual encounter in an alleyway off Sidwell Street which Mangori made an audio recording of.
Asked why he had done so, the defendant said it was ‘for safety’ in case ‘anything goes wrong’.
He added: “I should have been recording the whole night.”
Mr Laws said Miss Cox was ‘very, very drunk’, adding: “It was obvious she was in no fit state to look after herself, wasn’t it?”
Mangori responded: “I was drunk as well.”
They went back to Mangori’s room above the Bodrum Kebab House, in Mary Arches Street, where the defendant said they drank shots of alcohol, had sex twice, and smoked an unknown drug.
He said Miss Cox put a lighter under foil with a ‘black spot’ on it and used a rolled-up bank note to inhale the vapour.
Mangori said the substance made him ‘feel weird’, ‘want to puke’ and left his eyes and brain ‘spinning’ before he ‘blacked out’.
He said he woke to find Miss Cox unconscious and unresponsive on his bedroom floor with a wet patch of urine next to her.
Mangori said he ‘freaked out’ when he found Miss Cox was not breathing and had no pulse.
He said he tried to perform CPR ‘like in the movies’ on his bed and then on the floor – despite not knowing what to do.
Asked why he didn’t shout for help from other tenants in the building or call 999, Mangori said: “The only thing on my mind was doing CPR correctly. I’d never done it before.”
He said he did not know how to call an ambulance.
Mangori added that he considered ‘running away’ when he thought he saw ‘weird creatures’ coming out of Miss Cox’s mouth – something he now accepts was not real.
“It was all panic and just weird. I couldn’t make sense of it,” he said.
“You did not want help to come,” said Mr Laws. “You did not want an ambulance because you were the person that killed her.”
“That’s absolutely false,” replied Mangori.
“If your story was true, you would try everything possible to save her, wouldn’t you?” asked Mr Laws.
“Yes,” the defendant responded.
The court heard that earlier evidence from a Home Office pathologist had stated Miss Cox’s vest top had been pushed into her mouth.
Mr Laws said the clothing was so far back it would have blocked her airways, meaning she couldn’t breathe if she had been alive at the time.
Mangori initially said he had seen insects crawling out of Miss Cox’s mouth and placed the vest into it after she died.
He then changed his statement to say he put the vest in her mouth because of liquid coming out of it in the days after death.
Mangori denied changing his story ‘to fit’ the pathologist’s evidence that no insects had been found in Miss Cox’s head or body.
“If there were no insects, there was no need to block up her mouth,” said Mr Laws.
“No, that’s not right,” Mr Mangori responded.
Mr Laws asked the defendant: “When she was lying dead in your room, did you feel sorry for her? Did you feel sad for her? Did it occur to you she had friends and family who had now lost her?”
He added: “What you did was everything that could be done to stop her family burying her body.”
Mangori responded: “I didn’t try to prevent it. I just didn’t know how to get the body back to them or move it to tell them the body was there.”
He added: “There are absolutely no words to express how I was feeling.
“I did feel sad, I did feel terrified and I did feel sorry.”
The court heard that Mangori made three videos of himself vaping and listening to music in his room at 8.45pm on September 1 to send to online friends.
Miss Cox’s body lay on his bed just feet away, the jury was told.
“Your life was straight back to normal, wasn’t it?,” Mr Laws asked the defendant. “Were you quite comfortable around Loraine Cox’s dead body?”
“No,” Mangori responded.
Asked by the judge if he recognised the music playing in the background, the defendant said it was a song by a band called ‘Chop Suey’.
Lyrics that could be heard included the words ‘angels deserve to die’, the court was told.
Mangori described it as ‘random music’, adding: “It was something to cheer me up to get me out of this depression.”
The jury has heard how the defendant posed as Miss Cox by using her phone SIM card and her Facebook account to try and convince loved-ones she was still alive.
Mangori denied he was ‘behaving in a calm and calculated manner’ in messaging her family and friends.
He said ‘hacking’ the Facebook account was ‘not rocket science’ and, when asked by Mr Laws what the purpose of this was, responded: “So I would not be linked to the body or people coming to my flat. I didn’t want trouble.”
Mangori said that initially his ‘plan’ was to use Miss Cox’s Facebook ‘until she wakes up’.
“Your genuine belief was this person who had been dead for some hours might come back to life?,” asked Mr Laws.
The defendant responded: “Yes.”
He added he had hoped ‘she might just get up and be fine’ and he had wanted to ‘come up with a solution how to revive her ‘.
Mangori denied an accusation he had a ‘selective memory’.
“You have been pretending, haven’t you, that you can’t remember a number of things, things that are difficult,” said Mr Laws.
“That’s not true,” replied the defendant.
Mangori had earlier told the court he barely slept in the days after Miss Cox’s death and described them as a ‘nightmare’, a ‘living hell’ and that he ‘completely broke down’.
“Those four or five days were the longest days of my life. I didn’t know what to do or how to get help,” he said.
Mangori told the jury that, at the time, he did not believe he was cutting up Miss Cox’s body, but ‘wet tobacco’ he had been storing in his room as part of his job.
He now accepts he did dismember the dead woman, the court heard.
Asked by defence counsel Adam Vaitalingham why he felt responsible for Miss Cox’s death, Mangori said: “I don’t know how she died, I don’t know why she died, I don’t know the reason.
“At the same time I feel really responsible because I just drank and drank. I didn’t know she had problems, I didn’t know she had diabetes, I didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to drink that much.”
The trial continues…