Man murdered widow, 80, in London allotment row

Rahim Mohammadi Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Rahim Mohammadi told jurors they were "sending an innocent man to prison."

A man murdered an elderly widow with a lawnmower flex to avoid being thrown off his allotment, a court heard.

Rahim Mohammadi strangled 80-year-old Lea Adri-Soejoko with the cord and hid her body at Colindale allotments in north London in February last year.

Mrs Adri-Soejoko, the secretary of Colindale Allotment Association, was found in a locked mower shed.

Mohammadi, 42, was found guilty of murder and will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday.

He had a reputation for being "threatening" and having a "volatile" temper, the court heard.

Prosecutor John Price QC had told jurors Mrs Adri-Soejoko had been assaulted by the defendant and then killed to "stop her complaining".

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Lea Adri-Soejoko was secretary for the allotments where her body was found

Five months before the attack Mrs Adri-Soejoko, had a "notorious" run-in with Mohammadi, from Hackney, at a growers' meeting.

During a heated discussion over evictions, she had told him to "shut up" and Mohammadi called her a "bloody old witch", the court heard.

The Iranian had been involved with the allotment since 2008 through Freedom from Torture, an organisation helping torture victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The court heard he had ambitions to take over running the allotment, making Mrs Adri-Soejoko wary of him.

On the day of the murder Mohammadi assaulted Mrs Adri-Soejoko on the allotment, causing bruises and fractures to the ribs, jurors were told.

Mr Price said: "Mrs Adri-Soejoko was beaten up. That in turn does point to a motive for her murder - to avoid detection for a shocking and very serious assault on a vulnerable old lady."

Image caption Mrs Adri-Soejoko's body was found in a lock-up store at the allotments

The victim's body was locked up in the mower shed, which only four key-holders had access to, one of whom was Mohammadi.

Police found the body by following the sound of her ringing phone found before Mohammadi could cover up the crime.

She was wearing Wellington boots and an apron and had the shed keys in her pocket.

Mohammadi's DNA was found on the cord used to strangle Mrs Adri-Soejoko and he was captured on CCTV coming and going from the allotment, jurors were told.

In police interviews, Mohammadi gave different and inconsistent accounts of his movements.

'Innocent man'

Giving evidence, he said he had gone to the allotments to buy opium for his bad back on the day of the killing.

He claimed he heard shouting but dismissed it as a drunken fight.

The court was told Mohammadi sought political asylum in Britain in 2005 and was given indefinite leave to remain in 2010.

As he was led from the dock, Mohammadi turned to the jury and said: "You will have that on your conscience sending an innocent man to prison."

Det Ch Insp Noel McHugh, of the Met Police, said: "This crime has torn a family apart and sent shockwaves through a close-knit community.

"Mohammadi is a violent, evil, and volatile individual and he will spend many years in prison as a result of his appalling actions."

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