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Two men who blamed each other for killing a wealthy British Chinese pensioner who was killed as part of a bungled £5 million property scam, have both been found guilty of murder by a jury in London.
Kusai Al-Jundi, 24, and Mohamed El-Abboud, 28, had both denied murdering Louise Kam, 71, who was last seen alive on a CCTV camera entering a house in Barnet, north London, in July 2021, but on Thursday they were convicted of murder.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow, KC, had told the jury Al-Jundi had come up with a “careful and cunning plan” to trick Kam out of two properties she owned and then told El-Abboud to kill her.
After the verdict came in, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Howie, said: “Two young men have preyed on an elderly lady in order to try and plunder her life savings, and then take ownership of her property before unceremoniously dumping her in a rubbish bin. It was all driven by greed.”
Kam owned a house in Barnet, north London, and a shop with three flats above it, in Willesden, northwest London.
Al-Jundi tricked her into believing he had a rich friend, Anna Reich, who was willing to pay £5 million for the Barnet house, which was worth around £1 million, and well over the market price for the other property.
Glasgow said Kam was “doubtless tempted” as she stood to make a substantial profit.
Glasgow said: “Kusai Al-Jundi befriended Louise Kam and sought to persuade her to give to him the two properties that she owned. He deceived her into believing that he would pay her vast sums of money in exchange for these properties. He tricked her into signing paperwork in connection with the sale of her house. And he managed to obtain her signature on a power of attorney which had the potential to leave him in control of her personal finances.”
After her death Al-Jundi took her phone and texted her relatives, pretending she had moved to China after completing the property sales.
Killer Claimed Victim Had Taken His Money
Glasgow said: “But those who knew her best realised that this was a lie and that the messages they were being sent could not have been written by Louise Kam. When Louise Kam’s friends questioned Kusai Al-Jundi about her whereabouts, he even had the audacity to claim that she had deceived him and that she had left the country taking his money with her.”
On July 26, 2021, a CCTV camera captured Kam entering the property but there was no footage of her ever leaving.
She was strangled with an electric flex and her body was later found in a wheelie bin on the drive of Al-Jundi’s parents’ home in Harrow, north west London.
El-Abboud had been living at the property rent-free and had been doing odd-jobs on the house and garden for Al-Jundi.
Al-Jundi arrived shortly after Kam and then left again with Maria Amariucai, an aspiring model who he was trying to seduce, despite being married.
At the trial at the Old Bailey in central London the pair mounted a cut-throat defence in which they pointed the finger at each other.
Although Al-Jundi did not give evidence, he told police he had gone out shopping for jewellery with his Romanian girlfriend, Maria Amariucai, and had left Kam behind with El-Abboud.
Al-Jundi said El-Abboud had killed Kam and asked him to help cover it up.
Amariucai was friends with both El-Abboud—who was, like her, a Romanian national—and Al-Jundi at the time and she gave evidence last month that, during a car journey from London to Coventry, El-Abboud had confessed to her he had killed Kam.
But last week El-Abboud went into the witness box and gave a totally different account.
He said he had been “unwell” all weekend and had slept in an upstairs bedroom on the Sunday night, not waking until after Al-Jundi and Amariucai had left the house at 3.19 p.m.
‘I Was Shocked and I Started to Cry’
The jury was shown a TikTok video of El-Abboud inside Kam’s house in Barnet in which he appeared to be mocking wealthy people.
El-Abboud told the jury: “I came downstairs and I saw Miss Louise laid down in the living room. I saw Miss Louise and I got scared and I was shocked and I started to cry. I felt a reaction I do not know how to explain.”
He said his phone was ringing and when he realised it was Al-Jundi on the other head he shouted “What have you done? Have you killed a woman?”
El-Abboud said Al-Jundi replied: “Shut the [expletive] up, the neighbours will hear you.”
He said he threatened to go to the police but Al-Jundi told him he had no home, no money, and no family in Britain, and could not even speak English.
El-Abboud’s barrister, Graham Trembath, KC, said the phone call had been in both English and Arabic and was on speakerphone in the car.
But Amariucai, giving evidence from behind a screen, denied Trembath’s claim that she heard a screaming match between the two co-accused in which El-Abboud shouted: “What have you done? You’ve killed the woman!”
Amariucai said: “I didn’t hear any shouting or screaming. It was all in Arabic and I had nothing to say about it. But there was no shouting.”
The defendants both had Arabic interpreters throughout the trial but it was clear from the evidence that Al-Jundi had a good understanding of English and had probably read legal papers for the purchase of the house.
The prosecution claim Al-Jundi met with a solicitor in June 2021 and “claimed that both properties were owned by Louise Kam who wanted to move to China and put both of them into his name.”
Amariucai told the trial she first met Al-Jundi in May 2021 when she came to London to see El-Abboud.
She denied they were “romantically involved” but said he was attracted to her and bombarded her with compliments, saying he wanted her to marry him and have his children.
Amariucai admitted calling him “my king” but denied an accusation by Trembath that she had been “leading him on” because she thought he was wealthy.
She stayed at the house in Barnet and she told the court she saw a “Chinese lady” visit on the afternoon of July 26, 2021, and saw her in the company of El-Abboud and Al-Jundi.
Responding to a question from a juror, Amariucai said she had seen Kam sitting on the sofa in the living room before she left with Al-Jundi.
PA Media contributed to this report.
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