British woman sentenced to life for beheading her friend

Jemma Mitchell, 38, was convicted of the June 2021 murder in London of 67-year-old Deborah Chong. Two weeks after the murder, she had driven more than 200 miles to south-west England, where she left the decapitated and decomposed body of her victim in the woods.

She was given a life sentence of 34 years on Friday and the sentence was shown live on television, the first in England for a murder case involving a woman.

According to the prosecution, Ms Mitchell planned the murder after befriending Ms Chong while attending her parish group.

She killed her victim after the latter refused to give her £200,000 (about €230,000) to finance repairs to her dilapidated house. She then wrote a fake will to inherit Ms Chong’s estate, estimated at £700,000 (€812,000).

When Chong was reported missing, Mitchell initially claimed she had gone to visit family “somewhere near the sea”. But Ms Mitchell had in fact already beheaded her victim and kept his remains in her garden, the prosecution had said.

She showed “no remorse and is in total denial”

Trained in osteopathy, Jemma Mitchell boasted online that she was good at human dissection but denied being linked to Ms Chong’s murder.

According to Judge Richard Marks, she only showed “no remorse and is in total denial” about this crime “deeply shocking”.

Jemma Mitchell remained unmoved in her dock as the judge found her guilty on Thursday, while the victim’s family attended the sentencing via video conference from Malaysia.

It is only the second time that cameras have been allowed to broadcast a verdict live in a criminal court, and the first time that the defendant is a woman.

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