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Salcombe Murder Trial: Jury can consider manslaughter charge

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Salcombe Murder Trial: Jury can consider manslaughter charge

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The judge in the trial of Jemma Mitchell who allegedly murdered her friend, dismembered her and dumped her body in Salcombe, has said that the jury can consider a manslaughter charge. 

A judge in the trial of the murder of Mee Kuen Chong has told the jury that they can consider a manslaughter charge. 

Jemma Mitchell, 38, is accused of cutting off her friend's head and disposing of her body in Salcombe before faking a will, after a falling-out over money. 

Ms Mitchell has denied murdering Ms Chong, 64, who was known as Deborah, but declined to give evidence in her defence. Judge Richard Marks said jurors could consider a charge of manslaughter.

 

Judge Richard Marks was quoted by the BBC, saying it was "not the case for either the prosecution or the defence that the defendant is guilty of manslaughter as opposed to murder".

He continued: "The prosecution say this is a case of premeditated murder and that is the reason why the defendant took the suitcase with her to the house on 11 June - i.e. for the purpose of removing the body.

"The defence on the other hand say that the prosecution have failed to prove that Deborah Chong was unlawfully killed and then, even if you conclude that she was, they have failed to prove that she was unlawfully killed by the defendant."

The BBC reported: The judge added it was a circumstantial case with no witnesses and that while jurors could consider Ms Mitchell had told various lies, they should not assume they meant she "must be guilty".

Examples given during the trial allegedly included providing a false name and address to a taxi firm and lying about how she injured her finger on 11 June last year.

Judge Marks explained that defendants sometimes told lies out of "panic or fear or because they think that their genuine explanation may not be believed".

On Ms Mitchell's failure to not go into the witness box, he said: "You must not jump to the conclusion that her silence proved the case against her. It does not."

But he added: "It is open to you to conclude that the reason why the defendant remained silent is that in truth that she had no answer to the prosecution case or none that she thought would stand up in cross-examination."

The trial at the Old Bailey was adjourned until Monday.

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