Vigilantes who targeted innocent man facing jail

Azam Mangori

Azam Mangori was later found guilty of Lorraine Cox's murder - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

A pair of racist vigilantes are facing jail over a bungled attempt to avenge the murder of Exeter woman Lorraine Cox.

Louis Mearns and Brandon Burrows targeted Naveed Rahimi because he worked at the kebab shop behind which parts of 32-year-old Lorraine's body were dumped.

They accused him of 'cutting up that girl' as they rained blows on his head while shouting racist abuse in which they called him a 'Turkish terrorist'.

They drove around the streets of Exeter until they saw him near his home in Wonford and then launched an attack which started with Burrows throwing a full can of drink at him from the passenger window of Mearns' BMW.

Mearns stopped the car and both men got out to attack him, leaving him with bruising but no permanent injuries.

They both gave false alibis when arrested by police but were trapped by the locations of their phones, DNA from the drinks can, and eye witness evidence of a shocked passer-by who heard their vile racist taunts.

The attack happened on October 2, 2020, a month after Lorraine Cox's body was found in an alleyway next to the Bodrum Kebab House, in Mary Arches Street, where Mr Rahimi worked.

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It was six days before the real killer - Azam Mangori - was charged with her murder.

Lorraine Cox

Lorraine Cox was killed in Exeter in 2020 - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

The two attackers knew Ms Cox and were spurred on by rumours that staff at the kebab shop had something to do with the killing. 

Mangori, aged 25, killed her in a room above the shop and had no connection with it.

Mearns, 25, of Clyst St Mary, denied racially aggravated battery but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court. Burrows, 26, of Farm Hill, Exeter admitted the same offence.

Judge Timothy Rose adjourned sentence until March 11 and ordered a probation report. He released Mearns on bail and issued a warrant for the arrest of Burrows, who failed to attend court.

He said: "An immediate prison sentence is absolutely the most likely outcome. I have heard the evidence and it is for me to decide certain facts.

"I will be proceeding on the basis this was completely targeted and absolutely intended. They were there for one reason and one reason only and it was a vigilante exercise.

"They did not meet him by accident and did not turn up outside his home by accident and is a very, very serious matter for all those responsible."

Mr Herc Ashworth, prosecuting, said the two men were racist thugs who made it clear throughout the incident that the attack was linked to the killing of Lorraine Cox.

Mr Rahimi heard both calling him a Turkish terrorist, which was itself a mistake because he was British and of Afghan origin. 

A female passer-by heard them say 'do you know what he has done? He was one of those that cut up that girl, the sick b******s'.

Mearns said he had joined in the attack but said it was not targeted Mr Rahimi or used any racist language.

Mangori, also known as Meyer, was found guilty of the murder of Lorraine Cox in a trial at Exeter in April 2021 and jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years.

He met Ms Cox as she was walking home drunk after a night out and took her back to his second-floor room above the kebab house where he killed her and dismembered her body.

He dumped some of the body parts in refuse sacks in the alleyway next to the shop and other parts in woodland at Tinpit Hill, near Stoke Canon.

Five men associated with the kebab shop were arrested when the body was found but later released without charge after police realised that Mangori was the killer.