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French film producer strangled by ‘callous’ ex-boyfriend, court told

Kirill Belorusov denies murdering Laureline Garcia-Bertaux.

The body of Laureline Garcia-Bertaux was found in a shallow grave (Golin/PA)
The body of Laureline Garcia-Bertaux was found in a shallow grave (Golin/PA)

By Emily Pennink, PA Old Bailey Correspondent

A French film producer was strangled by her “callous” ex-boyfriend and buried in a shallow grave in her garden, a court has heard.

Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, was found naked, bound and wrapped in bin bags in a flower bed in Kew after she was allegedly killed by her former boyfriend Kirill Belorusov.

The Old Bailey was told Belorusov, 32, owed Ms Garcia-Bertaux a large amount of money and made constant excuses to avoid repaying her, even claiming he was dying of cancer.

In November last year the victim had begged Belorusov to give her the money, texting him: “I don’t think you realise how bad the situation is! I can barely pay my rent this month and food for myself and the dogs!”

The defendant told her his life “isn’t any easier”, later claiming he was suffering the ill effects of his “meds”, jurors heard.

In March he had travelled to London on the pretext of helping her move, after lying about finding her a new flat, it was alleged.

After throttling her, would-be stuntman Belorusov sent text messages from her phone to cover his tracks before he fled back to Estonia, jurors were told.

Friends alerted police on March 5 over concerns for her safety, and her body was found in a shallow grave in the garden of her flat in south-west London the next day.

Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said: “Kirill Belorusov tricked Laureline Garcia-Bertaux into believing that he was going to help her, he deceived her with promises of settling his debt to her and he lied to her about the house he had found that she could move into.

“Quite how Kirill Belorusov thought he was going to play out this charade remains to be seen, but clearly at some point he decided to kill Laureline Garcia-Bertaux.

“Having killed her he did all he could to get away with murder – he buried her body in the garden in order that he could leave the country before she was found, he sent messages to her friends in order that they might believe she was alive and well.

“It is difficult to conceive of someone behaving in a more calculated or callous manner.”

Jurors were told Belorusov had shown the victim pictures copied from a property website of a four-bed house for sale in Kingsdown, Kent.

After allegedly killing her, Belorusov bought duct tape, plastic sacks and beer, jurors heard.

Meanwhile, he posed as Ms Garcia-Bertaux in texts expressing delight at her fictitious new home and saying she was planning a “boob job” or “lypo” now the defendant had paid her back, it was claimed.

One message to a friend said: “I went to see the house it’s BEAUTIFUL! And Kirill gave me another £7,000 so I’m going on a shopping spree…

“And he transferred another £10,000 a week ago… And he left…Housewarming party is coming real soon…So hot tub and boob lift.”

Mr Glasgow told jurors the messages were “clearly a lie”.

Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s friends found them uncharacteristic, particularly the description of how she planned to spend the money, jurors were told.

Belorusov also attempted to create a “concrete alibi” by sending messages to his own phone from Ms Garcia-Bertaux, thanking him for his help and the money, Mr Glasgow said.

Mr Glasgow told jurors that Ms Garcia-Bertaux was “full of aspirations” and had worked as a producer in the television and film industry.

Belorusov worked in nightclubs and bars and claimed to have worked as a stuntman and as a casino bodyguard for high rollers, jurors were told.

The prosecutor said the defendant also claimed to have been in the army and “trained to kill without a trace”.

The couple met in 2009 and split up in 2017, after Ms Garcia-Bertaux complained that he was a “slob” and would “needle her about her weight”.

Estonian Belorusov has denied murder and the trial continues.

PA

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