Colindale allotment death: Accused 'went to buy opium'

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

A man accused of strangling an elderly widow with a mower cord on a north London allotment has told jurors he had gone there to buy opium.

Rahim Mohammadi is accused of beating up Lea Adri-Soejoko in Colindale, then throttling her to stop her reporting him.

It is alleged Mohammadi wanted Mrs Adri-Soejoko to retire as secretary of the allotments so he could take over.

The 41-year-old, from Hackney, denies murder.

The body of Mrs Adri-Soejoko, 80, was found in a shed after she failed to turn up to a meeting on 27 February 2017.

Tensions had flared at an AGM four months before when Mrs Adri-Soejoko told him to "shut up" in a discussion over the enforcement of notices to leave, the prosecution said.

He is said to have called her a "little witch" as he walked out.

Giving evidence, Mohammadi said he felt "embarrassed" about calling her names and later apologised over tea in his shed.

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

He said: "Towards the end of the meeting I stand up and say, 'bye bye little witch' because she used to call me 'little puppy'.

"I wanted to apologise first because I was embarrassed really because I had said 'shut up' in front of a few people. It was not nice."

On February 25, two days before she was found, Mohammadi said he met a man on the allotment who offered to sell him £200 of opium for his bad back.

'Gave him coffee'

On the day of Mrs Adri-Soejoko's death, Mohammadi said he had gone to her house to collect a key to the main gate.

She gave him coffee and asked his advice about carpeting her stairs because the boards were slippery, he said.

Later, he said he returned a tape measure to Mrs Adri-Soejoko.

During the day, the defendant said he made three trips away from the allotment to buy tobacco, water and opium and heard someone shouting but carried on.

He said: "I just said to myself now they are drunk and they are fighting each other."

The trial, at the Old Bailey, continues.