Ex-friend of Jemma Mitchell says killer tried to steal her boyfriend

Decapitation killer ‘tried to steal my boyfriend’: Former ‘best pal’ says she ended friendship with murderer after she made advances on her partner… and is haunted by the thought: ‘It could have been me’

  • An ex-friend of killer Jemma Mitchell is haunted by memories of staying with her
  • Keren Gjurutek, 20, was close friends with Mitchell, 38, for more than two years
  • They fell out after ‘weird’ Mitchell began secretly messaging her friend’s partner
  • Mitchell was jailed for life for murdering and beheading Mee Kuen Chong, 67

A former ‘best pal’ of murderer Jemma Mitchell has revealed she is haunted by memories of sleeping inside the killer’s flat.

Keren Gjuretek, 20, was just 16 when she struck up a friendship with Australian-born Mitchell, 38, at a Christian conference in London in 2018.

The pair enjoyed a blossoming friendship in which Mitchell appeared to take Miss Gjurutek under her wing – only to then send secret messages to the younger woman’s boyfriend, The Sunday Mirror reports.

On Friday, Mitchell was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 34 years after killing and decapitating ‘vulnerable’ friend Mee Kuen Chong, 67, before forging the latter’s will.

Miss Gjurutek said: ‘We were quite close friends, I would say best friends. We would call and talk every day.

‘We ended our friendship because she tried to steal my boyfriend… There’s something extremely weird about her. 

‘I’m just thinking about the times I was alone with her… I slept at her apartment. It’s absolutely awful to think that could have been me.’

Miss Gjurutek, now a full-time mother living in Dublin, said she was not surprised to learn about Mitchell’s crimes, adding she ‘creeped her out’ with questioning and was ‘like a snake’.

Jemma Mitchell bludgeoned Malaysian Mrs Chong over the head with a weapon at her London home in June last year in a plan to get hold of her money.

Using skills she had learned during medical studies, she then decapitated her 5ft 2in tall friend before putting her remains in a suitcase she hid on the top of a neighbour’s shed.

Keren Gjuretek (left), 20, was just 16 when she struck up a friendship with Australian-born Mitchell (right), 38, at a Christian conference in London in 2018.

Two weeks later, she drove more than 200 miles to the seaside town of Salcombe in Devon where she left devout Christian Ms Chong’s decapitated and badly decomposed body in woods.

On Friday, the killer – said to be in ‘complete denial’ over the crime – mouthed to her mother in the public gallery ‘Hi mummy’ as she entered Court Six of the Old Bailey.

Judge Richard Marks KC heard that Ms Chong had suffered a ‘horrifying ordeal and tragic death’.

Broadcasting live to the country, he told Mitchell: ‘I have no doubt whatsoever that this was a undergone for gain. There is the chilling aspect to what you did to and with her body after you killed her.

‘You have shown no remorse and appear to be in complete denial at what you did.

‘The enormity of your crime is profoundly shocking.

‘The sentence of the court is life imprisonment and the minimum will be 34 years.

Jemma Mitchell who is due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey of the murder of Mee Kuen Chong this morning live on television

Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of Jemma Mitchell, at the Old Bailey in London, during sentencing for the murder of Mee Kuen Chong

Mee Kuen Chong was hit over the head with a weapon at her London home in June last year when Mitchell flew into a rage

CCTV footage of Mitchell being arrested by police at her home was released after the verdict showing her feigning surprise

Screen grab taken from CCTV issued by Metropolitan Police of Jemma Mitchell dragging a blue suitcase outside Ms Chong’s Wembley home

Killer’s mother: ‘She’s innocent and loving’ 

The mother of Jemma Mitchell insists she is innocent, despite evidence the judge described as ‘overwhelming’.

Hillary Collard blew kisses to her daughter from the public gallery as she was sent down from the dock.

Outside court Ms Collard insisted: ‘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.

‘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?’

She said her daughter was a ‘loving, thoughtful’ woman, rather than ‘extremely devious’ as the judge had said. 

‘As you well knew she (Ms Chong) was particularly vulnerable.

‘She was very well aware of your problems in regards to the help and was proactive in trying to help you.’

Ms Chong’s sister Amy Chong provided a victim impact statement and joined the hearing by video link from Malaysia along with the victim’s nieces Pinky and Yinky and nephew Ryan.

She said in her statement said: ‘Deborah’s death was a shock to us all.

‘It was difficult to comprehend how it could have happened to her, although we are not close due to certain differences of opinion with regard to religion.

‘It saddens me she had to go through such a horrifying ordeal and tragic death.’

The victim’s sister added she had suffered sleepless nights and the murder left a ‘huge bottomless hole’ in her life.

She said that ‘no-one in their right mind’ would mutilate another person in the way Mitchell had.

Hearing in the trial how Mitchell had taken advantage of her sister and put her down as mentally ill had caused more upset.

She added: ‘She is the crazy one who steals people’s belongings after they died.

‘We still do not understand how she died. Did she suffer?

‘This mystery will haunt me forever.’

The prosecution claimed 38-year-old Mitchell had planned to murder the vulnerable divorcee and fake her will to inherit the bulk of her estate – worth more than £700,000.

Judge Richard Marks KC heard Ms Chong had suffered a ‘horrifying ordeal and tragic death’

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood (centre) speaking to media outside the Old Bailey yesterday

The site in woodland where the body was dumped in Salcombe, Devon, and found by police 

Ms Chong went missing on June 11 last year and her body was found hundreds of miles away 16 days later 

Grandfather killer was the first TV sentencing 

History was made in July as the public watched a crown court judge pass sentence live on TV for the first time in English legal history.

Judge Sarah Munro QC sentenced Ben Oliver to life in prison with a minimum term of 10 years and eight months for killing his grandfather David, 74, after the 25-year-old, himself a convicted paedophile, discovered his relative had been accused of sexually abusing girls.

The sentencing in Court Number Two – one of the Old Bailey’s oldest courtrooms – was broadcast online and on news channels including Sky News, the BBC, and ITN. There was a 10 second delay on the stream – which in future could allow legally problematic content to be edited out.

Only the judge was being filmed during sentencing to protect the privacy of victims, witnesses and jurors.

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Burnett of Maldon, hailed the move as a ‘very positive’ step in promoting open justice.

However, others questioned whether it went far enough and called for entire trials to be broadcast.

The judiciary is strongly opposed to the filming of whole trials over fears it would lead to witnesses refusing to attend and turn legal proceedings into soap operas like the recent court battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

Court proceedings have long been televised in some US states, with the trial of OJ Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman viewed by a peak TV audience of 100m when the ‘not guilty’ verdict was announced.

The move to allow cameras in English court follows a change in the law in 2020, but implementation was delayed in the pandemic. The Ministry of Justice announced Oliver’s sentencing would become the first to be broadcast after Judge Munro agreed to a request by TV channels to be allowed access.

 

She came up with the plan after Ms Chong, who was known as Deborah, backed out of giving her £200,000 to pay for repairs to Mitchell’s £4 million dilapidated family home, jurors were told.

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.

Yesterday 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.

Today was only the second time cameras have been allowed into an English criminal crown court to record a sentencing, and the first in which the defendant is a woman.

During her 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 came up with the plan after Ms Chong, who was known as Deborah, backed out of giving her £200,000 to pay for repairs to Mitchell’s £4 million dilapidated family home, jurors were told.

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.

Yesterday 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.

Today was only the second time cameras have been allowed into an English criminal crown court to record a sentencing, and the first in which the defendant is a woman.

During her 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 the was reported missing, Mitchell claimed she had gone to visit family friends ‘somewhere close to the ocean’ as she was feeling ‘depressed’.

The suitcase that was used to carry Ms Chong’s headless body to Devon where she was found

The suitcase used to carry Ms Chong’s headless body to Devon. ‘There was no blood seeping out the case and no smell. I would never have known what was in it. ‘I checked the boot afterwards and there was no stain,’ the taxi driver said

Ms Chong was said to be a vulnerable person and prone to erratic behaviour

Revealed: Mitchell has conviction for a breach of a non-molestation order relating to her sister and brother-in-law

It can now be reported that Mitchell has a conviction for a breach of a non-molestation order relating to family members.

In 2016, she received a conditional discharge at North West London Magistrates’ Court for breaching the order in respect of her sister and brother-in-law.

Since moving back to the UK, Mitchell was unemployed as she focused on her ill-fated home renovation project which had been beset with problems.

She was never registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), so could not legally practise as an osteopath in Britain.

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 skull 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.

Experts said they may 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.

The blue suitcase had been stored on the roof of a neighbour’s shed.

Although no forensic evidence was recovered from the suitcase, 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 prime minister Boris Johnson.

She met Mitchell through a church group and initially agreed to help her, but days before the murder backed out of bankrolling Mitchell’s building work urging her to sell up instead.

Mitchell had grown up in Australia, where her mother worked for the British Foreign Office.

IT was there she 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. 

He said: ‘The motivation for Jemma Mitchell’s actions was money and she showed a significant degree of planning and calculation as she attempted to cover up her horrific actions.

‘The cold facts of this case are shocking.

‘Deborah Chong was a vulnerable lady– in the weeks before her murder, she was seeking help for her declining mental health. 

‘However, Mitchell – so desperate to obtain the money she needed to complete the renovations on her house – sought to take advantage of Deborah’s good will, but when Deborah changed her mind, she callously murdered her and embarked upon an attempt to fraudulently obtain her estate.

‘Over the course of two weeks following Deborah’s murder we can only speculate as to what Mitchell did with the body and what her wider plan was.

‘The decomposition when the body was found was at such an advanced state that Mitchell may have begun to fear Deborah’s body would be discovered – whether this forced her into moving the body and why she chose Salcombe in Devon, we may never know.

‘However, what is clear is that Mitchell – seeing her chance to obtain the funds she so desperately desired disappear – decided to attack and murder a vulnerable lady for her own gain in a truly despicable crime.’

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