A man accused of murdering Lorraine Cox in Exeter told a jury he has no memory of dismembering her body – thinking instead he was ‘separating tobacco’.
Azam Mangori, aged 24, also denied having a ‘sexual interest’ in people who have lost limbs while under cross-examination.
The defendant became distressed and emotional when asked about the ‘disarticulation’ and mutilation of 32-year-old Miss Cox’s body.
Mangori, also known as Christopher Mayer, is standing trial at Exeter Crown Court where he denies a charge of murder.
He admits preventing the lawful burial of Miss Cox’s body in September 2020.
Mangori has told the jury that, at the time, he did not believe he was cutting up a body, but ‘wet tobacco’ he had been storing in his room as part of his job.
Quizzed by prosecutor Simon Laws QC over the dismembering of Miss Cox and dumping of her remains, Mangori repeatedly told the court on Thursday (March 25): “There was no body. It was tobacco.”
Mr Laws said that Miss Cox’s body had been ‘disarticulated neatly and cleanly’ with knives and asked the defendant: “How did you know how to do that?”
“I did not, there was no body in front of me,” said Mangori, who insisted that his mental state meant he believed he was ‘separating tobacco’.
The prosecutor added that ‘in the real world’ the nature of the dismemberment meant the defendant ‘must have thought carefully about how to do it’.
Mangori denied this, but accepted that he did cut up Miss Cox’s body and cause other injuries to it after she had died.
Pressed on why Miss Cox’s body had also been mutilated and a tattoo indicating she was a diabetic removed from her arm, Mangori said: “There was no body. Yes, I did that, but I did not see it. It was just tobacco like I said.”
Mr Laws added: “Is the truth about this that you just don’t want to answer any questions about it? Not because there was no body, but because you did terrible things?”
Mangori responded: “It was terrible, but I did not see it. It was horrible. I was just dealing with tobacco.”
“There was a body Mr Mangori, and it was the body of Lorraine Cox,” said Mr Laws.
“I don’t want to think about it,” the defendant replied.
“Because you did something utterly shameful and you don’t want to admit it,” said the prosecutor.
“The reason for doing that [removing the tattoo]is you thought it was a way of concealing her identity. What other reason could there possibly be?”
“I do not know,” said Mangori. “Because your mind is so dirty? Is that the way you think all the time? How do you live?”
“You took care in wrapping up those body parts,” said Mr Laws.
“Each part was put inside a number of bags tied with knots.
“You took very considerable care to wrap them up in that way so that the smell would be contained.
“That’s you dealing with parts of a human body and has nothing to do with tobacco, does it?”
“It was tobacco,” responded the defendant.
Mangori was asked about videos and images either downloaded to, or potentially viewed on, his phone which the prosecution alleges show an interest in amputations.
They included a video of a young girl with no legs dancing, which was downloaded hours after Mangori had taken a taxi to hide body parts in woods at Tinpit Hill on September 8.
Another, downloaded on August 28, showed a man with two prosthetic legs starting a fight.
Mangori said the subject matter was ‘a coincidence’ and that the clips were among thousands of videos on his mobile.
The defendant said there was ‘no evidence’ he had viewed images found cached on his phone – one of a lower leg and another relating to a child having an above-knee amputation.
He denied ever seeing the pictures and described the disputed evidence as ‘a laughing stock’.
“It is something you are very interest in, isn’t it Mr Mangori,” said the prosecutor.
“You are very interested in people who have lost limbs. It is an interest of a sexual kind. You amputated the limbs of a sexual partner of your’s, didn’t you?”
“That is absolutely not true,” said Mangori.
Mangori told the court: “She just died.
“It’s an offence that never existed – no-one did anything to her at all.”
He said that, by the time of his arrest, he had forgotten Miss Cox had ever been in his room.
The defendant added that it was only when body parts were mentioned during a police interview he realised ‘something was wrong’.
“Mr Mangori, you killed Lorraine Cox, didn’t you,” said Mr Laws.
“Everything you did in the eight days afterwards was intended to ensure that you were never caught for that killing.
“You were hiding everything as well as you could that could lead to you being discovered.”
“Absolutely not,” said Mangori. “That’s not correct, it was all out there. I was not hiding anything at all.”
He added: “There was no crime.”
The court had earlier heard Mangori had allegedly visited a website on ‘how to dig a grave by hand’ after Miss Cox’s death.
“Why were you looking at digging up graves when you had only been cutting up tobacco?” asked Mr Laws.
“I wasn’t looking for a grave. I was searching for digging tools,” said Mangori.
He said he took some of Miss Cox’s remains and buried them in woods at Tinpit Hill, but believed at the time he was hiding wet tobacco from his boss.
Mangori accepted he packed Miss Cox’s possessions – including her clothing and diabetes kit – in her rucksack before putting it in a bin bag and leaving it in the alleyway.
He also admits cutting up Miss Cox’s debit card and driving licence – both found along with her wallet in the kitchen bin in his flat.
Mangori said he had thrown away the ‘main parts’ of each, bearing her name, separately.
Asked why he had done so, the defendant said: “So they were not usable.”
“This is part of you covering up what you had done, isn’t it? You were thinking this through carefully, weren’t you?,” asked the prosecutor.
“No,” replied Mangori.
Mr Laws added: “Did you think you were cutting up tobacco when you cut up her driving licence and debit card?
“You were fully aware you were dealing with two small pieces of plastic that posed a danger to you.”
“No,” said Mangori, “they were in the bin. If I wanted, I would just throw it outside.”
Mangori denies killing Miss Cox in his room above a kebab shop in Exeter city centre in the early hours of September 1, 2020.
The trial continues…