A failed asylum seeker with a fascination for amputation has been found guilty of murdering Exeter woman Lorraine Cox, who he lured to his room, mutilating her body.
Azam Mangori, aged 24, who lived above the Bodrum kebab shop in Mary Arches Street, Exeter, was on Thursday (April 1, 2021) found guilty of murdering 32-year-old Miss Cox, killing her in the early hours of September 1, 2020
Mangori – also known as Christopher Mayer – killed Miss Cox in his room above the Bodrum kebab house, in Exeter city centre, then chopped up and hid her body.
He was found guilty by a jury after a five-week trial at Exeter Crown Court and will return for sentencing on Wednesday (April 7).
Presiding Judge, Justice Garnham, thanked the jury for their careful consideration of the evidence in reaching a guilty verdict.
Mangori, a friendless loner who had had an interest in amputation, surgically cut up Miss Cox’s body ‘neatly and cleanly’ after luring her back to his room with the promise of ‘free money, free drugs and free alcohol’.
He dumped her body in city centre bins next to the kebab house, and remote beauty spot on the outskirts of Exeter.
Simon Laws QC, prosecuting, said Mangori’s phone records showed he had an interest in amputation before he lured Miss Cox back to his room.
Mr Laws said Mangori’s actions that night had been ‘amputating a sexual partner’.
The prosecutor said it was no coincidence Mangori amputated Miss Cox’s leg soon after killing her, leaving her in his room in that state for several days.
Mr Laws said: “That leg was disposed of before the other parts of the body, there won’t be any doubt about that.
“It was not with the parts in the alleyway [found]on the 8th of September and it was not with the parts at Tinpit Hill.
“The obvious reason is he cut it off before the rest of the body was dismembered. It wasn’t there on the 8th [September] when he cleared out his room and took the sports hold-all to Tinpit Hill. He cut it off before.
“While we can’t say when, he did spend some time in that room with the body that was missing part of its leg. He disposed of it separately.”
The pair met after Mangori – until then a complete stranger – stalked, ‘homed in’ and followed a very drunk Miss Cox along Exeter High Street in the early hours of September 1, 2020.
After talking briefly, they had a sexual encounter in an alleyway off Sidwell Street, which Mangori recorded on his phone.
Afterwards CCTV showed Mangori leading an unsteady Miss Cox by the shoulders through the city centre.
She was last seen alive at 2.45am on September 1, walking into the kebab house with her killer.
Her body remained in his room for a week, until September 8.
Mangori, who admitted preventing the lawful burial of her body, claimed Miss Cox died after they had sex twice and took drugs together in his room.
He said she collapsed on the floor of his room and he attempted CPR to revive her, but did not call for help.
The trial centred on whether Type 1 diabetic Miss Cox’s death was as result of excessive alcohol, drugs or diabetes related, or if she was killed by Mangori.
Mangori claimed Miss Cox died after smoking drugs off foil but toxicology reports found no evidence of any substances in her system.
Miss Cox was found with a tee-shirt stuffed into her mouth, which was said Mangori used to suffocate her.
A post mortem found nothing to show Miss Cox struggled or was injured while she was alive.
Mangori said he blacked out after inhaling drugs with Miss Cox, and when he woke up, she was dead on the floor.
He said he tried to revive her with CPR and put her tee-shirt in her mouth when he imagined he saw insects crawling from her mouth.
Mangori changed his story to say it was because vomit-like fluid began leaking from her mouth after no evidence of insects was found at post mortem.
A group of men playing poker in another room above the kebab house that night reported hearing no noise or commotion coming from Mangori’s room.
After Miss Cox died in his room, Mangori spent the next week trying to cover his tracks, lying to her friends and family she was still alive.
He said he hoped she would come back to life.
As she lay dead on his bed, hidden by a blanket, Mangori used her SIM card and posed as Lorraine Cox, telling her dad, partner and friends she was safe and moving to Plymouth to start a new life.
He hacked into her email accounts and tried to set up a Paypal account in her name.
Then, sitting feet away, a calm-looking Mangori made and sent fun videos to friends – showing himself vaping and listening to music by heavy metal band Chop Suey, which included the lyrics I cry when angels deserve to die.
In the hours after her death, Mangori calmly cut up and hid Miss Cox’s bank card and driving licence, disabled her diabetic blood monitor and disposed of her rucksack and clothes.
As Miss Cox’s family and friends searched for their loved-one, CCTV showed Mangori making numerous trips to the city centre to buy supplies of plastic sheeting, tape and bags to wrap up her chopped-up body, and an air purifier to rid his room of the smell of decomposition.
He carefully dismembered her body, using a surgical technique, which forensic experts said was a measured act and not one done with panic.
He claimed no knowledge of cutting up Miss Cox’s body.
He said he only remembered chopping up and burying a bag of water-damaged tobacco, which he had been storing illegally in his room.
Police found Miss Cox’s plastic-wrapped limbs in bins in an alleyway outside the Bodrum kebab house, dumped by Mangori.
The rest of her body he packed into a sports bag, taking a taxi to Tinpit Hill, on the outskirts of Exeter, where he buried them.
When he was arrested, he was found with a step-by-step guide on his phone, showing how to dig a grave by hand.
Mangori followed Miss Cox as she walked home alone through Exeter city centre in the early hours of the morning after spending the bank holiday, August 31, 2020, out drinking in the city with friends.
She had become separated from her friend, who she had arranged to stay with for the night.
Miss Cox had earlier refused another friend’s offer to pay for a taxi home to her dad’s house in Beacon Heath, choosing to walk instead.
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.
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 said: “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.”
After the guilty verdict, Lorraine Cox’s family released a statement.
Her family said: “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.”