London allotment death: Widow 'killed to hide assault'

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

A widow strangled with a lawnmower cord on an allotment had been "wary" of her alleged killer, a court has heard.

Rahim Mohammadi, 41, had a reputation among growers at Colindale, north-west London, for being "threatening" and "volatile", the Old Bailey was told.

Prosecutor John Price QC said Lea Adri-Soejoko, 80, was beaten up by the defendant and then killed to "stop her complaining".

Mr Mohammadi denies murdering her on February 27 last year.

'Volatile plot holder'

The jury heard Ms Adri-Soejoko, the secretary of Colindale Allotment Association, had a "notorious" run-in with Mr Mohammadi, from Hackney, at a growers meeting in September 2016.

"It is not suggested that he has ever previously physically assaulted Mrs Adri-Soejoko," Mr Price explained, before describing how the defendant had responded to being told to "shut up" by her during the meeting with a "display of verbal aggression" which "shocked others".

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

"We know from what others later observed of her and from her insistence that the minutes of that meeting should include a full account of what happened, that she was affected by it and, as has been said by some who knew her, was "wary" of him."

However, he would have known a serious physical assault upon the elderly widow would not have been tolerated by allotment users, jurors heard.

"As he pondered what he had just done to her, Rahim Mohammadi will have feared that he would never again be allowed to return to the allotment... and so he killed her," Mr Price said.

Jurors have heard that Mrs Adri-Soejoko's family and friends became concerned when she failed to turn up for an allotment society meeting last February.

'Inconsistent' accounts

In the early hours of the next morning, police followed the sound of her ringing phone and found her body inside a locked shed on the allotment used to store mowers.

The starter cord of a lawnmower had been wrapped around her neck and she had suffered fractured ribs and bruises from being "beaten up".

Mr Price told jurors Mr Mohammadi spent five hours at the allotment on the day of the killing and had been seen by two other plot holders.

As a committee member, he had his own key to the mower shed, which had been locked from the outside with Mrs Adri-Soejoko's body in it, with her keys in her pocket.

The defendant's DNA was also found on the part of lawnmower cord he allegedly used to strangle her.

Before his arrest, Mr Mohammadi was interviewed as a witness and gave "inconsistent, inaccurate, unsatisfactory and incomplete" accounts of his movements on the day, the court heard.

The trial continues.