A woman killed her friend from church before dumping her headless corpse more than 200 miles away and forging her will in a bid to inherit her estate, a court has heard.
Property developer Jemma Mitchell, 38, is said to have attempted to extract £200,000 from 67-year-old Mee Kuen Chong to pay for repairs to her dilapidated home in Willesden, north-west London.
When Ms Chong, who lived in Wembley, north London, changed her mind about handing over the cash, Mitchell killed her and disposed of her remains during a 500-mile round trip to Salcombe in Devon last June, the court heard.
She then allegedly set about forging a will so she could inherit the bulk of Ms Chong’s wealth.
Mitchell has denied the allegations.
The allegedly fake will was uncovered in a search of the defendant’s home, Deanna Heer KC told jurors at the Old Bailey today.
She said: “In this case, the motive is clear: money.
“A large sum was needed to complete the repairs on the defendant’s house and, in Mee Kuen Chong, the defendant found someone from whom she thought she could get it, if not when she was alive, then by forging her will after she had killed her.”
“Having killed or at least fatally injured the deceased, she needed to get rid of her body and so she removed it in the blue suitcase.
“That is why, when she left… it was so much heavier than when she arrived and why, on June 26 2021 the defendant travelled over 500 miles to Salcombe, taking it with her.
“And it is why she drove to… the area in which the deceased’s mutilated body was to be found the following day.”
Jurors were shown pictures of Ms Chong’s clothed body and head after they were found about 10 metres apart in woods.
The court was also shown CCTV footage allegedly charting the defendant’s activities in the wake of the murder.
Miss Heer added Mitchell was seen on camera walking from Ms Chong’s home with a suitcase which appeared to be “a lot heavier” than when she arrived.
She was also pulling another suitcase, belonging to Ms Chong, which allegedly held paperwork relating to her financial affairs.
Later the same day, Mitchell was treated at St Thomas’s Hospital for a broken finger, claiming she shut it in a car door – which the prosecution said was a lie.
On learning from Ms Chong’s lodger she was missing, Mitchell allegedly told him “she was going to stay with family friends for a year to clear her head… somewhere close to the ocean.
The defendant allegedly hired a car last June 26, giving the phone number registered to a neighbour who died earlier that year.
Mitchell picked up the rental Volvo and was allegedly seen on CCTV stowing the large blue suitcase in the boot before setting off for the South West.
The Volvo was seen on CCTV at a garage in Marlborough, close to the South Devon coast.
The footage showed the front passenger side tyre was “shredded” and the car almost collided with a forecourt display, jurors were told.
Mitchell borrowed a customer’s phone to call a recovery firm, saying she had come to Salcombe for a “scenic drive”.
The repairman noticed luggage in the boot but it did not match the description of the blue suitcase, which the prosecutor suggested had been removed beforehand.
Ms Heer said the repairman opened a back door and noticed an “unusual smell – sort of musty and damp, a smell which he had never smelled before and could not describe”.
Later that evening, the car was seen on CCTV near the spot where the body was dumped, jurors heard.
Mitchell arrived back at her London home shortly before 7am the next day with the blue suitcase, it is claimed.
Ms Chong’s body and handbag were found by holidaymakers shortly before 5pm last June 27.
Inside the bag was a piece of orange rope similar to a piece later found at the defendant’s home.
Ms Chong’s head was found several days later with a grey woollen headband.
A post-mortem examination revealed a broken skull caused by “significant blunt force” and 20 rib breaks “most likely” inflicted before death.
Police investigating Ms Chong’s disappearance tried to contact Mitchell last June 26, jurors were told.
Three days later, she emailed back – claiming the victim was “planning to stay with friends near her sister’s family on the coast”.
Mitchell was arrested last July 6 and told officers: “I know that she has gone away.”
In a search, police recovered the blue suitcase from the top of a neighbour’s shed, with tests matching blood on a tea towel inside a pocket to the victim’s DNA, it was claimed.
In a bedroom was the allegedly fake will, dated October 2020, which purported to leave 95% of Ms Chong’s estate to the defendant for her house project and 5% to Mitchell’s mother, the court also heard.
One of the forged signatories was Mitchell’s neighbour who died last March, jurors were told.
Ms Chong’s signature was also “extremely unlikely to be genuine” and appeared to have been copied from her UK passport, Ms Heer suggested.
An examination of Mitchell’s computer revealed a Word document of the same will had been created on July 1 – after Ms Chong was already dead.
Mitchell has denied murder, claiming the death had nothing to do with her.
The trial continues.