Man gets life for murdering woman
A callous conman "motivated by sheer greed" has been jailed for life for stabbing a wealthy woman to death in her flat, hiding her body in the boot of a car and spending her money on the high life.
Rakesh Bhayani, 41, was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years at the Old Bailey for the murder of Carole Waugh, said to have been a lonely woman who worked as an amateur escort and who believed that he was her friend.
Her money was squandered on high living in casinos and top West End hotels, with thousands of pounds spent on gambling, alcohol and prostitutes.
Sentencing Bhayani, Mr Justice Wilkie said he "ruthlessly targeted" Ms Waugh and "left her body to rot".
The murder and subsequent dumping of the body was done with "greed, callousness and total lack of any regard" for her, the judge said.
Ms Waugh, 49, died at her flat, where she lived alone, in Marylebone, central London.
Her body was placed in a bag which was carried to a car. The vehicle was initially stored in a central London car park, then left in a rented garage in New Malden, south-west London.
Police described Bhayani as "a confidence trickster who murdered her with the sole intention of stripping her assets and the belongings she had worked hard for".
The murder arose "out of an argument about money", while the judge described Ms Waugh as a "risk taker and manifestly vulnerable to conmen".
Mr Justice Wilkie said: "Without a second thought, you calmly and comprehensively set about stealing her identity. You took steps to ensure her body would not be found for a sufficient time."
Bhayani embarked on the complete "asset stripping of her persona", the judge said.
Ms Waugh's family were in court for the sentencing and heard the murder was "not premeditated or pre-planned".
Mr Justice Wilkie sentenced Bhayani, of Chamberlayne Avenue, Wembley, to life with a minimum of 27 years in jail.
The judge said Bhayani's actions in persisting with the fraud after killing Ms Waugh were "breathtakingly wicked".
"Your compulsion to feed your addictions to risk-taking and gambling and your amorality and selfishness overwhelmed any notion of decency or restraint," he added.
As well as the life sentence, Bhayani was given six years for perverting the course of justice, six years for conspiracy to commit fraud and 40 months for three counts of fraud - all of which are to run concurrently with the life sentence.
Co-accused Nicholas Kutner, 48, of no fixed address, was jailed for a total of 13 years - seven years for perverting the course of justice by concealing the death, and six years for conspiracy to defraud.
Police said the pair lived a "champagne lifestyle".
The judge said Bhayani was the "instigator and chief organiser of the fraud", and they spent Ms Waugh's money on "hotels, casinos and escorts".
The court heard that the two conmen used Ms Waugh's identity to defraud banks and other institutions, within three months, of more than £250,000 worth of assets.
The court heard earlier that Bhayani had a "deep-seated and unavoidable addiction to gambling".
The judge said Kutner was in the flat when Bhayani murdered Ms Waugh and was then on board with the actions to conceal her death and thwart the investigation into her murder.
He said the concealment of Ms Waugh's body was "a job for two people" and they were both "motivated by sheer greed".
Before the sentencing, a statement from Ms Waugh's family was read out in which she was described as "loving, supportive and great fun".
The statement, signed by her brother, Christopher Waugh, spoke of the "disbelief, dismay, darkness" as the family had to "face our worst fears" in the wake of the murder.
"Why would the authorities not take her disappearance seriously?" the statement asked.
The court heard that five days after Ms Waugh's funeral, her mother collapsed and later died "broken-hearted", unable to understand how and why the tragic events unfolded.
The statement said the family always looked forward to Ms Waugh's visits, "especially Mum".
"She was loving, supportive and great fun. Her home visits were memorable.
"She always had great stories to tell. She turned these stories into adventures.
"For Mum, who rarely ventured out of the county of Durham, these stories were an insight not only into Carole's life, but into the world as a whole. London, Libya, Australia, Italy, Dubai (to name but a few) were all brought to life by Carole.
"We all looked forward to Carole's visits, especially Mum. They would plan shopping trips - nothing special but real quality time between a mother and a daughter.
"Happy days indeed," the statement said.
Detective Chief Inspector Justin Davies, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC), said Ms Waugh's murder was "the senseless killing of a woman who put her trust in people she thought were her friends".
He said: "Bhayani clearly had no intention of friendship with Carole.
"Bhayani is a confidence trickster who murdered her and stripped her assets and the belongings she had worked hard for.
"Both men are compulsive liars who have deceived and defrauded their own families, friends and acquaintances throughout their entire adult lives. They went to extreme lengths to defraud Carole.
"Her body was placed in a boot of a car and left for months in car parks and a lock-up garage. Both men did not waste any time in spending her money, using it to buy gold, use prostitutes and live a champagne lifestyle.
"While Carole's body lay undiscovered, they showed no regard for her family, who they knew were desperately seeking to trace her.
"Ms Waugh was a wealthy woman; her years of hard work both in the UK and abroad were squandered in matter of three months.
"They took almost everything she worked for with exception of two bracelets which remained on her body. These were difficult to prise off her wrists and I have no doubt, if able to, they would have taken these items too."