Conman guilty of woman's murder
A conman has been found guilty of murdering a wealthy woman who was stabbed to death in her flat and whose body was hidden in the boot of a car.
Rakesh Bhayani, 41, was convicted by an Old Bailey jury of killing Carole Waugh, said to have been a lonely woman who worked as an amateur escort and who believed that he was her friend.
Bhayani admitted to perverting the course of justice by concealing the death.
Co-accused Nicholas Kutner, 48, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of perverting the course of justice by concealing the death.
Both men - described in court as professional conmen and lifelong gamblers who knew each other through prison - admitted conspiracy to defraud.
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 London.
A third man, Elie Khoury, 40, of Spring Street, Paddington, central London, was found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
Mr Justice Wilkie deferred sentencing until tomorrow for Bhayani, of Chamberlayne Avenue, Wembley, north west London, and Kutner, of Leighton Road, Kentish Town, north west London, to allow for Ms Waugh's family to attend the hearing.
"I am particularly aware that the family of Carole Waugh are not in attendance today and that it should be desirable that they should be present," he said.
"I have in mind that I should proceed to sentence tomorrow when they will be here and therefore able to hear what is said. I know that they are coming from a long way distant."
The court heard that Ms Waugh regarded Bhayani as a friend.
Patrick Gibbs QC, opening the prosecution case, told the court: "It seems that she had been intimate with him at one time or another in the past.
"She may have first met him through an advertisement of herself as an escort that she had placed on the internet.
"Like everyone else that has met Bhayani, she was taken in by him. She thought that he was her friend, but you may decide by the end of this trial that Mr Bhayani doesn't really do friends.
"Once he had been released from prison, knowing how much she had, he planned that she should die."
The court heard that Ms Waugh did not have a regular job but had held a number of roles in the past, including working as an accounts clerk in the oil industry in Libya.
"She was a woman who had plenty of money - that was to prove her undoing," Mr Gibbs said.
"She owned her flat - it was worth more than £600,000 - she had savings, shares, jewellery, of which she was proud, and a cash income from working as an amateur escort."
Of Bhayani and Kutner, he said: "They have a long history of tricking people and defrauding people to get their hands on the large sums of money which they require in order to feed their gambling habits."
Ms Waugh, who was said to have known Bhayani for "quite a while", visited him in prison and lent him £40,000, the court heard.
Detective Chief Inspector Justin Davies of the Met's homicide and major crime command, said: " Carole Waugh's murder was the senseless killing of a woman who put her trust in people she thought were her friends.
"Bhayani clearly had no intention of friendship with Carole and his motivation was clearly her money.
"Bhayani is a confidence trickster who murdered her with the sole intention of stripping her assets and the belongings she had worked hard for."
He described both Bhayani and Kutner as "compulsive liars."
"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," he said.
"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."
"I hope today's conviction and subsequent jail sentence brings some solace to Carole's family".