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'We might never know why Luton shop workers Mohammed Islam and Murshed Miah murdered Chatham gran Harjit Chaggar', says detective Rob Vinson

By Lynn Cox

The detective who led the investigation into the murder of Harjit Chaggar in Chatham has spoken of the "wall of silence" put up by her killers.

Det Supt Rob Vinson, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, told how his team faced huge difficulties in piecing together what happened.

It comes after shop workers Mohammed Islam, 28, of Windmill Road, Gillingham, and Murshed Miah, 38, of Wheeler Street, Maidstone, were today found guilty of her murder.

Harjit Chaggar's murderers Mohammed Islam and Murshed Miah.
Harjit Chaggar's murderers Mohammed Islam and Murshed Miah.

Mr Vinson said: "I think we might have to face the possibility that we might actually never know what caused them to commit this crime.

"There has been lots of speculation. They haven't given accounts as to what has taken place.

"And that leaves the family in a really, really difficult position. We would like to give the family some closure and at least to have some understanding. We may never know that.

"It's been hugely difficult trying to unpick events that took place.

"It's difficult because Mrs Chaggar went missing on September 2. And it was a fair period of time before her body was actually found.

"That's made it difficult as well and the wall of silence has been very difficult to the investigation and caused an awful lot of work for the investigation team and added to the distress of the family as well."

Det Supt Rob Vinson from Kent's serious crime directorate
Det Supt Rob Vinson from Kent's serious crime directorate

Mr Vinson added: "Mrs Chaggar used the shop, she was a fairly regular customer in there. She was in there on that day shopping.

"This was a lady who had gone out shopping on a particular day and her life has been snatched away and the reason for that we don't know yet and I just pay tribute to her family and the dignified way in which they've conducted themselves throughout all this.

"And the people in that area as well who have given us a huge amount of help in the appeals we've put out - my thanks go out to them as well."

Grandmother Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a shop basement
Grandmother Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a shop basement

Nigel Pilkington, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was a case that was almost wholly circumstantial. There was no identification of any of the defendants carrying out the crime.

"There was no killer DNA or forensic evidence because of course they were from that shop, so we expected to find there was forensic evidence in relation to them there and there were no admissions. They gave no explanation and therefore it was a day that was wholly circumstantial.

"The reality is that these defendants were in the shop and they didn't give any explanation.

"One did give an explanation in evidence but the other two didn't and it was a case which called for explanation in circumstances in which we know she went into the shop Mrs Chaggar and she didn't come out of that shop.

"Those defendants have to explain and what happened and how it was that for 12 days her body was not discovered."

A cordon outside Sani Globe food store in Luton Road
A cordon outside Sani Globe food store in Luton Road

Mr Pilkington added: "We know Mrs Chaggar went into the shop at around two minutes past four and we know she didn't come out. We know she must have been rendered unconscious pretty soon and she was placed in an area of the shop the access of which must clearly have been known by the three defendants and that she died in the period of time after she entered the shop.

"We also know that other people entered the shop around five o'clock and they saw nothing or heard nothing which suggests she had been rendered unconscious fairly soon after going into the shop.

"Circumstantial cases are quite rare. You usually have some forensic evidence or some identification or perhaps some admission or confession. But we were able to build a case circumstantially and the jury by their verdict have obviously been satisfied by the evidence we have presented."

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