'Evil' allotment holder from Bethnal Green found guilty of murdering grandmother and 'pillar of Colindale community'
PUBLISHED: 09:51 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:04 30 November 2018
A "violent and evil" Rahim Mohammadi is being sentenced at the Old Bailey today for murdering an 80-year-old grandmother on an allotment.
The 42-year-old from Bethnal Green was convicted yesterday for strangling Lea Adri-Soejoko in a shed at the allotments at Colindale in north London in February last year.
Lea was a “pillar of the community”, the secretary of Colindale allotments association where Mohammadi kept a small plot.
But he strangled her with a lawnmower cord in a fit of anger, then hid her body in a shed.
Mohammadi, who travelled regularly from east London to Colindale from his home in Goldsmiths Row, off Hackney Road, was even interviewed by detectives as a potential witness after her body was discovered—but his alibi fell apart.
"Mohammadi is a violent, evil and volatile man who will spend years in prison as a result of his appalling actions"
“Mohammadi is a violent, evil and volatile man who will spend years in prison as a result of his appalling actions,” Det Chief Insp Noel McHugh said.
“He was aggressive, threatening and highly manipulative. There must have been some kind of argument which led to him brutally attacking Lea. But he went a step further and murdered her in the hope he would never been found out.”
There had been previous issues with him at the allotments, the trial heard. Lea was uncomfortable around him, but tolerated him “and ultimately would pay with her life”.
Detectives believe the attack on February 27 last year was a spontaneous outburst which led Mohammadi to strangl her to stop her speaking out with the inevitable loss of his allotment plot.
He dumped her body in the shed in the hope that he would never been found out.
“This crime has torn the family apart and sent shockwaves through a close-knit community,” Chief Insp McHugh added.
“Lea was real pillar of the community, a sprightly 80-year-old grandmother who was very active in her neighbourhood, a lovely caring lady like everyone’s mum or gran.”
Lea’s granddaughter, who was living with her in Colindale, arrived home in the evening to find her missing. Lea failed to turn up to meet a friend that evening, which was out of character.
"Lea was pillar of the community, a sprightly 80-year-old, a lovely caring lady like everyone’s mum or gran"
Friends and family searched for her, then reported her missing the next day.
They called Lea’s mobile phone—which led to the discovery of her body. The ring tone could be heard in the darkness and quiet of the allotments.
Police followed the sound to a shed and forced open the locked door where they found Lea, her face covered with a coat and a lawnmower starter cord wrapped around her neck.
Cause of death was ligature compression of the neck, a post mortem later found. She also had rib and spinal bone fractures as well as cuts and bruises—she had been beaten before being strangled with the cord.
Lea, a widow who had five grandchildren, still had her allotment keys on her.
Mohammedi, a member of the allotment committee, also held a set of keys including one for the shed.
He has set out from his home in Bethnal Green late morning and spent five hours in the allotments. The lawnmower cord was tested and traces of his DNA found.
Lea’s family, who attended court throughout the trial, said in a victim impact statement: “The agony of knowing what horror she endured and how she suffered is an indescribable torture, to which there is no closure. This can never be put right, erased or undone.
“Her murder was a betrayal of the worst kind. Lea has been stolen from us which has left a void in our hearts that nothing can truly fill. Nothing will make it less horrific or agonising.
“There will be no closure. A part of us remains in that shed with her the day she died. We could not protect her when she needed us most.
“Her murder tore the heart out of our family. But we have succeeded in taking a dangerous, evil and cunning man off the streets so he cannot hurt another innocent person like our beautiful, blessed mum and nan. He has shown not a shred of mercy, neither in his vicious act nor in his complete lack of remorse.”
They watched silently, holding hands in court as the jury delivered the guilty verdict.
The jury in Mohammadi’s first trial in February failed to reach a verdict and a retrial was scheduled. He is being sentenced this-afternoon at the Old Bailey.