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Chatham gran Harjit Chaggar found in Luton shop basement died of 'car crash-type' injuries, murder trial told

By Paul Hooper

A pensioner died from injuries normally seen in a high-speed road traffic crash, a murder jury has heard today.

Harjit Chaggar, 69, suffered three blows to her head from a blunt instrument - and numerous fractures to her ribs and blows that severed her spinal chord.

Expert pathologist Dr Nathaniel Carey told Canterbury Crown Court that in his opinion Mrs Chaggar had died "in close proximity to when she had been last seen alive".

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

The jury heard how Mrs Chaggar's body was discovered in a shop 12 days after disappearing while shopping in Luton Road, Chatham.

Abdul Hannan, 44, of Aldon Close, Maidstone; Murshed Miah, 38, of Wheeler Street, Maidstone; and 28-year-old Mohammad Islam, of Windmill Road, Gillingham, have all denied murder.

A fourth defendant Rasad Miah, 27, of Otway Street, Chatham, has pleaded not guilty to preventing the lawful burial or cremation of a corpse.

The prosecution has alleged the pensioner was enticed into the shop and murdered.

Dr Carey went to the Sani Globe Food Store, where her decaying body of was found face down in a basement on September 14 last year.

After carrying out a post mortem, he revealed although Mrs Chaggar had been suffering from heart disease "she died with it not because of it".

Defendants Murshed Miah, Abdul Hannan and Rasad Miah
Defendants Murshed Miah, Abdul Hannan and Rasad Miah

Dr Carey told how she had suffered a blow to her shin and three further blows to her skull - the worst a V-shaped injury that had caused a thin hairline fracture to near one of her eye sockets.

He said: "She had suffered a significant head injury, which I think was a contributory factor (in her death). The other major contributors were injuries to her chest, including multiple rib fractures, spine fractures and severing of the spinal chord.

"The cause of death was head and severe thoracic injuries."

The pathologist added the head injuries were likely to have made Mrs Chaggar unconscious and her breathing "would then have been impaired because of the rib fractures".

He said the head injuries were likely to have been caused by a blunt instrument or weapon.

"The injuries to her chest were quite unusual for someone (dying) in shop premises because they were injuries normally associated with a fall from a height or in a high speed road traffic collision."

Police outside the Luton shop where Harjit Chaggar's body was found
Police outside the Luton shop where Harjit Chaggar's body was found

He added he ruled out Mrs Chaggar sustaining the chest injuries accidentally falling through the hatch in the shop.

"The likely scenario is that she was assaulted, receiving impacts to the head area (in the shop premises) and then while still alive but potentially unconscious she was then dropped through a hatch into the sub floor where she received most of her thoracic injuries and
ultimately died there.

"She would have been in severe pain and died within some hours of eating her last known meal at the day care centre. She lived no more than six hours after receiving her injuries."

Earlier, forensic scientist Andrew Parry told the jury how Mrs Chaggar's blood had been found on trainers worn by Mohammed Islam.

But he added: "My findings are in keeping with the actions of Mohammed Islam who states that he removed a (black plastic) bag from the deceased that was heavily soaked with blood, had taken it to the wheely bin and then returned it to the cellar."

The trial continues.

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