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Colindale allotment murder: Hackney man Rahim Mohammadi guilty of murdering elderly widow Lea Adri-Soejoko with lawnmower flex

PUBLISHED: 13:18 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:39 29 November 2018

Lea Adri-Soejoko. Picture: Met Police

Lea Adri-Soejoko. Picture: Met Police

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A 42-year-old faces life in prison for murdering an 80-year-old grandmother with a lawnmower flex in a Colindale allotment shed.

Rahim Mohammadi. Picture: Met PoliceRahim Mohammadi. Picture: Met Police

Rahim Mohammadi, 42, of Goldsmiths Row, Haggerston, killed Lea Adri-Soejoku in a “hot-blooded” attack on February 28 2017 leaving her body covered by a coat in a locked shed in Sheaveshill Avenue.

Mrs Adri-Soejoko – also well-known by her maiden name of Lea Hulselmans – was found by police with a flex wrapped around her neck.

The jury deliberated for two days before returning a verdict that a previous jury in January were unable to do.

Throughout the six week trial, the court heard that Mohammadi repeatedly lied about his actions on that day.

Mrs Adri-Soejoko was secretary of the Colindale Allotments Association and was found with the keys to the locked shed in her pocket.

Mohammadi, a committee member, was one of only four people who had a key to the mower shed. Other members all had alibis.

Prosecutor John Price QC told the jury that DNA evidence was found on the greasy part of the cord, belonging to both Mohammadi and Mrs Adri-Soejoko’s which was “much closer to the starter motor than to the plastic handle”.

Mrs Adri-Soejoko did not use the lawnmower, he said, adding: “The prosecution submits that in her case the obvious answer has to be that her DNA came to be on the mower starter cord in the course of its use as the weapon applied to her body in order to strangle her.”

He said the widow was “robust, in good health” and “she had a full active life” when she was murdered just before her 81st birthday.

Post mortems revealed she had sustained broken ribs and a broken neck prior to being strangled.

He told jurors: “Where the killing of Mrs Adri-Soejoko was carried out with cold-blooded deliberation, the other blunt force injuries speak of a more spontaneous, hot-blooded attack. That does point to a motive to avoid detection for a shocking and very serious blunt force assault on an old lady. The killer was known to her – he knew she could identify him.”

Mrs Adri-Soejoko was reported missing by colleagues on February 28 when she failed to turn up to a meeting in Barnet.

Despite frantic calls by her daughter and granddaughter there was no answer on her mobile phone.

Police officers immediately searched the allotment while the family continued to phone her. The sound of a mobile phone ringing led them to a small mower shed, padlocked shut.

When they forced open the door they found Mrs Adri-Soejoko’s lifeless body inside, which had been covered with an old blue coat.

She was lying in an absolutely straight line with the plastic handle of a Mountfield lawnmower pressed against her neck and the starter cord used as a ligature and “wrapped tight against her neck”.

Mrs Adri-Soejoko’s children and grandchildren attended court throughout the trial.

Her family said in a statement “her murder was a betrayal of the worst kind”.

Mower shed where Lea Adri-Soejoko's lifeless body was found after being beaten and strangled by Rahim Mohammadi. Picture: Met PoliceMower shed where Lea Adri-Soejoko's lifeless body was found after being beaten and strangled by Rahim Mohammadi. Picture: Met Police

They said: “Lea was our mother and grandmother, but she was also a sister, an aunty and a friend to so many. She gave her time, trust and forgiveness to all and at 80 years old she was not jaded or cynical.”

They added: “There was no way she nor we could have known what would happen - but she deserved so much more.

She deserved more time and more respect. Her murder was a betrayal of the worst kind.

“All anyone hopes is for a peaceful and pain free end for their parents when the time comes. 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.”

Describing her presence they said: “Our mum/nan was fit, healthy and happy, supporting us through thick and thin.

“There was no reason that she could not have been here for us for many years to come, eager to share in the lives of her great grandchildren, those she now will never see.”

The process has been long for the family who watched as a jury discharged in January, unable to decide.

“This long and exhausting trial has been a mountain to climb.

““Through the tireless efforts of the Homicide Command, the Crown Prosecution Service, the jury and barristers we have uncovered the truth amidst the lies.

“We say again there will be no closure.

“There will always be a part of us that remains in that shed with her the day she died. We cannot change that, we could not protect her when she needed us most.

“Mum’s murder tore the heart out of our family, but we are lucky to have only good memories of her and the light of her love and strength within us will keep us strong.

“We have been given hope through our justice system in knowing that there are consequences to incomprehensible actions.

“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/nan. He has shown not a shred of mercy at all. Neither in his vicious act nor in his complete lack of remorse.

“Above all Mum had such strength and commitment to tolerance and fairness, volunteering her time without complaint or reward for the wellbeing of others.

“She loved life and lived it with humble grace. That someone so kind could be treated this way is unforgivable and we will miss her desperately for the rest of our lives.“

Det Chf Insp Noel McHugh, from the Met’s murder suad, said: “Although I never had the privilege of meeting Lea, we have learnt what a lovely caring, lady she was, like everyone’s mum or gran. She was a real pillar of the community, a sprightly 80-year-old grandmother who was very active in her local neighbourhood and secretary of Colindale Allotment Association.

“Mohammadi was a fellow plot-holder and someone she had known for some years. He was an aggressive, threatening and highly manipulative man and there had been previous issues with him at the allotments.

“We don’t know exactly what happened on the day Lea was killed, but we know there must have been some kind of argument which led to Mohammadi brutally attacking her.

“Knowing he would be in very serious trouble for what he had done, he went a step further and murdered her in the hope he would never been found out.

“I would like to commend the outstanding work carried out by my team to gather the extensive led evidence which has led to Mohammadi’s conviction today.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the respect and dignity shown by Lea’s family which has been extraordinary in such terrible circumstances.

“This crime has torn their family apart and sent shockwaves through a close-knit community. Mohammadi is a violent, evil, and volatile individual and he will spend many years in prison as a result of his appalling actions.”

The defendant made no reaction as the jury delivered its guilty verdict, watched in silence by his victim’s family who held hands in court.

But as he was led from the dock, Mohammadi turned to the jury and said: “You will have that on your conscience sending an innocent man to prison.”

Mohammadi will be sentenced tomorrow.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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