Two men have been found guilty of murdering a 71-year-old businesswoman in £4.6 million scam to plunder her life savings.
Louise Kam, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, was strangled with a hairdryer cord and dumped in a wheelie bin after being lured to a three-bedroom house she owned in Barnet, north London, on July 26 2021.
Following a trial at the Old Bailey, chef Kusai Al-Jundi, 25, and delivery driver Mohamed El-Abboud, 28, were found guilty of her murder on Thursday.
Detective Chief Inspector Brian Howie, of the Metropolitan Police, said it was “despicable callous crime” driven by greed.
He said: “Two young men have preyed on an elderly lady in order to try and plunder her life savings, and then take ownership of her property before unceremoniously dumping her in a rubbish bin.
“It was all driven by greed. Louise had money, she had cars, she had property and she had a life that both of those people wanted. And the only way for them to get that, they saw, was to kill Louise and then to send heartless messages to her friends and family pretending that she had fled to China.”
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow KC had told the jury that Al-Jundi was “prepared to stop at nothing” to trick Ms Kam out of her property and his friend, El-Abboud, was “more than happy” to help.
They targeted the trusting mother-of-two, who had previously owned a catering business with her ex-husband before going into rental properties.
She owned two north London properties – the £1.3 million house in Barnet and a shop with three flats in Willesden.
A friend had introduced her to Al-Jundi, who worked at the Yasmeen Sham Restaurant in Willesden and lived with his mother, wife and children in Harrow.
Al-Jundi boasted of having a wealthy girlfriend called Anna who was willing to put up £4.6 million to buy Ms Kam’s properties in a deal which involved avoiding tax.
Ms Kam’s son, Greg, had warned his mother it could be a scam but she was eager to go ahead, with the encouragement of her friend, jurors heard.
She was attracted by the potential multimillion-pound profits and wanted to help her two sons financially, the prosecution said.
But what seemed to be a golden opportunity was a sham as Al-Jundi never intended to part with a penny, the court was told.
The woman Al-Jundi claimed was helping him with the purchase was another of his victims.
He had made romantic overtures toward the former City worker and agreed to pay her £30,000 for her two cars – an Audi and Toyota – but the money never materialised.
He went on to instruct a solicitor to draw up legal papers to transfer Ms Kam’s properties into his name and got her to sign a Lasting Power of Attorney document in a bid to seize control of her finances.
Meanwhile, El-Abboud moved into Ms Kam’s Barnet house and treated it as his own.
Jurors saw a TikTok video of Romanian national El-Abboud boastfully showing people around the property.
The scam came to a head when Ms Kam made it clear she would not sign over the properties without meeting “Anna”.
A meeting was arranged at the Barnet house but, by the time Ms Kam realised something was amiss, it was too late.
Ms Kam was captured on CCTV entering the address on July 26 and was never seen alive again.
There was a violent struggle and Ms Kam was strangled with electrical cord, jurors were told.
The defendants then bundled up her body in a duvet and dumped it in a rubbish bin which Al-Jundi later arranged to be collected and taken to his family home in the hope it would be end up in landfill.
As part of the cover-up, Al-Jundi lay a false trail of messages on Ms Kam’s phone.
He claimed to her friends that she had deceived him and left the country with his money, the jury heard.
El-Abboud moved Ms Kam’s BMW car from the driveway of the Barnet house and sold it via Facebook Marketplace to an unsuspecting buyer for £1,450, the court was told.
He also posted a TikTok video showing him dancing and gyrating in the driveway.
He went on to confess to Ms Kam’s killing to a female friend, saying he was acting on Al-Jundi’s orders, it was claimed.
Greg Kam was in hospital with Covid but became so concerned for his mother that he reported her missing to police.
A search of her property led to the discovery of the hairdryer dumped in a hedge.
Her body was eventually discovered at Al-Jundi’s home, hidden beneath turf in the wheelie bin.
This horrific crime is a tale of greed taken to extremes
Catherine Gould, Crown Prosecution Service
Officers found that the false messages from Ms Kam’s mobile phone were sent using the wi-fi at the restaurant where Al-Jundi worked.
Al-Jundi’s DNA was identified on gloves found with the body and on one of the plastic bin bags she was wrapped in.
El-Abboud’s DNA was on the hairdryer and other gloves dumped with the body, while Ms Kam’s blood was on his jumper.
During the investigation, it emerged that 10 days before Ms Kam’s death, Barclays bank staff had raised concerns that she might be the victim of fraud but police never followed it up.
Giving evidence, El-Abboud denied being involved in her death and blamed Al-Jundi, who declined to give evidence.
Catherine Gould, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This horrific crime is a tale of greed taken to extremes. Kusai Al-Jundi and Mohamed El-Abboud selfishly and brutally ended Louise Kam’s life for their own ends.
“The police worked quickly to establish that Louise had come to harm and to secure the evidence to present a strong and compelling case to put before the jury.
“Our thoughts remain with Louise’s family and friends and we sincerely hope that these guilty verdicts will bring them some comfort.”