The mother of a woman jailed for murdering her friend and dumping her headless body has insisted she is innocent.
On Friday, Jemma Mitchell, 38, was told she would have to serve at least 34 years in prison for the “profoundly shocking” murder of 67-year-old Mee Kuen Chong, known as Deborah.
The Old Bailey had heard how Mitchell had transported Ms Chong’s body in a large suitcase after killing her at her home in Wembley, north-west London.
The prosecution alleged she decapitated her and stored the body in the garden of the home Mitchell shared with her mother in Willesden, north-west London, before depositing it more than 200 miles away in Salcombe in Devon, two weeks later.
The circumstantial case rested on extensive CCTV footage, Ms Chong’s DNA found on a tea towel stuffed inside the suitcase and a forged will at Mitchell’s house, leaving the bulk of the victim’s £700,000 estate to the defendant.
Mitchell opted not to give evidence, with her lawyers claiming “gaps” in the prosecution case meant jurors could not be sure of her guilt.
Jailing her for life on Friday, Judge Richard Marks KC said Mitchell had been convicted on “overwhelming evidence”.
Mitchell’s mother Hillary Collard blew kisses to her daughter from the public gallery as she was sent down from the dock.
Speaking outside court, the retired Foreign Officer worker told PA news agency: “As far as I’m concerned she did not do it. She’s innocent.
“There’s absolutely no question about it and I know she would not do such a thing. I’m absolutely baffled.”
“I’m absolutely agog. There was no DNA on the body.
“If she had murdered the lady, at our house there would be blood and other things but there was nothing.
“Also at Deborah’s house, they said she was murdered there. There’s no blood, no nothing.
“And also, how could you squeeze a rigor mortis body into a suitcase, drag it out, lay it on the ground and DNA was not on the body?”
“If her DNA is not on the body, how can she be charged? I just don’t understand it.”
During the trial, a pathologist said that the victim’s head fractures from a push onto the ground or being hit with a weapon would not necessarily have causing bleeding.
And the prosecution suggested Mitchell used a plastic sheet when transporting the remains.
Mrs Collard said: “She offered me to go to Salcombe with her. If she had a dead body in the back she would not have asked me to go with her, would she?
“If I was with her I would have been arrested too as an accessory to murder so in a way it’s a good job I did not go with her.”
“She told me she wanted to go to the seaside for the day.”
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Marks had told Mitchell: “As part of your degree you were taught anatomy and you included on your website which advertised your services as an osteopath the fact that you had experience in the dissection of human bodies.
“That no doubt stood you in good stead when you cut off her head, although why you chose to do that remains a mystery.”
But Mrs Collard insisted her daughter would not have done it and suggested that Ms Chong was depressed, killed herself and her head had become detached due to decomposition.
She said that if her daughter had given evidence she could have explained the suitcase contained “crockery, cutlery and tea towels”.
On why a forged will was found at their home, Mrs Collard said: “I thought that Deborah asked her to type up the will for her.”
She said her daughter was a “loving, thoughtful” woman, rather than “extremely devious” as the judge had said.
Ms Collard added: “She is my carer and now what am I going to do? I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to manage on my own.”