Pair jailed for vigilante attack on kebab shop worker

Lorraine Cox

Lorraine Cox died in 2020 - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

A pair of vigilantes have been jailed for a race attack on a restaurant worker who they falsely accused of murdering missing woman Lorraine Cox.

Louis Mearns and Brandon Burrows targeted Naveed Rahimi because he worked at the Exeter kebab shop which was beneath the room where 32-year-old Miss Cox was killed in August 2020.

She was murdered by tenant Azam Mangori, who had nothing to do with the kebab shop, but who cut her body into pieces, some of which he dumped in the alleyway next to the building.

Mearns and Burrows thought staff from the Bodrum Kebab shop were involved in the killing and tracked down chef Naveed Rahimi to his home in Exeter.

They ambushed him on his doorstep, accused him of ‘cutting up that girl’ and called him a ‘Turkish terrorist’ as they battered him about the head and body.

They both gave false alibis when arrested by police but were trapped by the locations of their phones, DNA from a drinks can they threw at Mr Rahimi, and testimony from a shocked passer-by.

The attack happened on October 2, 2020, a month after parts of Lorraine Cox’s body was found in the alleyway and six days before the real killer was charged with murder.

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The two men were friends of Lorraine Cox and were inflamed by untrue rumours about the killing.

Mearns, aged 25, of Clyst St Mary, denied racially aggravated battery but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court last month. Burrows, aged 26, of Farm Hill, Exeter, admitted the same offence.

Mearns was jailed 44 weeks and Burrows for 50 weeks by Judge Timothy Rose.

He who told them: “There was no solid reason for you to believe Mr Rahimi was involved in the killing of Lorraine Cox beyond your vigilantist and racist views about the murder.

“You decided in complete ignorance he must have been involved and either found out where he lived or followed him home. It is nonsense to suggest you went there by coincidence.

“You attacked him in a vigilante-style revenge attack, fuelled by racism. You both angrily and obscenely accused him of being involved with the murder.”

Azam Mangori

Azam Mangori was later found guilty of Lorraine Cox's murder - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

Mr Herc Ashworth, prosecuting, said the two men were racist thugs who made it clear throughout the incident that the attack was linked to the killing of Lorraine Cox.

Mr Rahimi heard both calling him a Turkish terrorist, which was itself a mistake because he is British and of Afghan origin.

Burrows hit Mr Rahimi with a knuckleduster while shouting 'Turkish terrorist' and 'you were part of it'.

A female passer-by heard them say ‘do you know what he has done? He was one of them that (killed) that girl’.

The two men told neighbours: “You are living next to a terrorist.”

Mearns told the victim he would come back for him and stab him. Mr Rahimi was so frightened he fled his home and moved hundreds of miles away from Exeter.

Burrows has previous convictions for a racially aggravated offence and two for vigilante attacks on people who he falsely accused of being paedophiles.

Christopher Haddock, for Mearns, said he is not a racist and had joined the attack because he was upset by the killing of Miss Cox and not through antagonism based on race.

Kelly Scrivener, for Burrows, said his partner is pregnant and this has changed his attitude to his life and made him determined to stay out of trouble. He is remorseful for what he did.

Mangori, also known as Meyer, was found guilty of the murder of Lorraine Cox in a trial at Exeter in April 2021 and jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years.

He met Ms Cox as she was walking home drunk after a night out and took her back to his second floor room above the kebab house where he killed her and dismembered her body.

He dumped some of the body parts in refuse sacks in the alleyway next to the shop and other parts in woodland at Tinpit Hill, near Stoke Canon.

Five men associated with the kebab shop were arrested when the body was found but later released without charge after police realised Mangori was the killer.