Two men have been found guilty in England of murdering an elderly woman whose body was found under the floorboards of a shop’s cellar.
The corpse of Harjit Chaggar, 69, was found dumped at the Sani Globe food store in Chatham, Kent, 12 days after she went missing.
She had suffered fatal injuries to her head, neck and back, and it was estimated that she died within 24 hours of her last sighting.
Detectives said Mrs Chaggar was enjoying a normal day, seeing friends and visiting shops, when she was lured to the back of the store and killed.
What motivated her murderers to kill her remains unclear but police said there was a concerted effort by them afterwards to hide the truth.
At Canterbury Crown Court, store staff Mohammad Islam, 28, of Windmill Street, Gillingham, and Murshed Miah, 38, of Wheeler Street, Maidstone, were found guilty of murder, Kent Police said.
Police said the pair, and store manager Abdul Hannan, 44, of Aldon Close, Maidstone, and Rasad Miah, 27, of Otway Street, Chatham, were also convicted of preventing her lawful burial.
Mrs Chaggar’s son, Kuldish Chaggar, said afterwards: “The shock of losing our mother will never leave us.
“We pray that she is now at peace and can give us the strength to carry on without her, no matter what obstacles are placed in our way, for none can be bigger than losing her.”
The court heard that CCTV footage captured Mrs Chaggar running several errands on the day she was last seen, including visiting a doctor’s surgery and buying groceries.
When she entered the Sani Globe food store, a man in a white coat and apron beckoned her over and they went to the rear of the shop at around 4pm last September 2.
It was the last known sighting of her, prompting her family to raise the alarm and a missing person appeal to be launched after she failed to return home.
Almost two weeks later, on September 14, a store employee called police to report the discovery of a body beneath floorboards in the cellar.
In interview, Hannan claimed he called Mrs Chaggar “Auntie” and that he knew her as a regular customer at the store.
Miah and Islam said they found her body after noticing a bad smell, but all three denied knowing how she came to die in the cellar.
Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said after the case: “Harjit Chaggar was enjoying what to her was a normal day – seeing friends and heading to the shops to buy some groceries before heading home.
“But she never made it home. This 69-year-old lady was lured to the back of Sani Globe where she was attacked and killed.
“We may never know why these men killed Mrs Chaggar but I hope today’s verdict goes some way to providing her family and friends some closure after a period of great uncertainty and distress.”
Sentencing will take place later this month.
Nigel Pilkington, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s South East complex casework unit, said: “The defendants all knew that Harjit Chaggar entered the store from which she did not leave.
“They knew how she came to be killed and why. Despite the appeals made by Mrs Chaggar’s family following the days of her disappearance, at no point did any of them give any indication to the police that they knew what had happened to her.
“The denials of her murder and their collective attempts to hide the truth were particularly callous and aggravated further by the fact that they left her to die.”