A self-proclaimed healer who befriended and decapitated a rich pensioner to steal her £700,000 estate has been jailed for life.
Jemma Mitchell, 38, is the first woman in England to be handed the sentence on TV, after she was found guilty of murdering Mee Kuen Chong, 67, in her London home last year June.
Two weeks after the murder, Mitchell drove over 200 miles to the seaside town of Salcombe in Devon and dumped the devout Christian's body in the woods.
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The prosecution said Mitchell plotted to murder the vulnerable widow after she met her through a church group.
When Ms Chong backed out of giving her £200,000 to pay for repairs to her rundown £4 million home, Mitchell killed her and forged a will to inherit the bulk of her estate – worth more than £700,000.
The trained osteopath, who boasted online of her award-winning skill in human dissection, had denied having anything to do with Ms Chong’s death – but declined to give evidence at her trial.
Mitchell stood impassively in the dock as she was found guilty of murder while Ms Chong’s family in Malaysia watched the verdict via a video link on Thursday (October 27).
Today (October 28), Judge Richard Marks KC was broadcast handing down his sentence to Mitchell at the Old Bailey.
During the trial, jurors viewed CCTV footage of Mitchell arriving at Ms Chong’s home carrying a large blue suitcase on the morning of June 11 last year.
More than four hours later, she emerged from the property in Wembley, north-west London, with the suitcase appearing bulkier and heavier.
She also had with her a smaller bag full of Ms Chong’s financial documents, which were later recovered from Mitchell’s home.
After Ms Chong was reported missing, Mitchell claimed she had gone to visit family friends “somewhere close to the ocean” as she was feeling “depressed”.
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In reality, Mitchell had decapitated Ms Chong and stored her remains in the garden of the house she shared with her retired mother in Willesden, north-west London, the prosecution suggested.
On June 26 last year, she stowed the body inside the suitcase in the boot of a hire car and drove to Devon.
Ms Chong’s headless body was found by holidaymakers beside a woodland footpath near the picturesque town of Salcombe the next day.
Following a police search of the area, Ms Chong’s head was recovered a few metres away from the body.
A post-mortem examination found skull fractures which could have been from a blow to the head and broken ribs, said to have been caused by the body being stuffed into the suitcase.
A search of Mitchell’s home uncovered Ms Chong’s fake will and personal papers.
Ms Chong’s DNA was identified on a bloodstained tea towel in a pocket.
Jurors heard that Ms Chong had suffered from schizophrenia and was referred for help after writing letters to the then-Prince of Wales and also the then-prime minister, Boris Johnson.
Mitchell had grown up in Australia, where her mother worked for the British Foreign Office and had set up an osteopathy business there before returning to the UK in 2015.
On her website, she had claimed she was “attuned to subjects in neuroanatomy, genetics and dissection of human cadavers”.
Following her conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood, who led the investigation, said: “Mitchell has never accepted responsibility for Deborah’s murder so there are questions which remain unanswered.
“Why she kept her body for a fortnight, why she decapitated her, why she deposited her remains in Salcombe.
“What we do know is that these were evil acts carried out by an evil woman and the only motive clearly was one of financial gain.”
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