A Russian movie stunt organiser accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend and burying her body has told a court how they split over the death of their pet Rottweiler.
Kirill Belorusov, 32, allegedly owed French film producer Laureline Garcia-Bertaux thousands of pounds and pretended to have cancer to avoid paying it back.
On March 5, the 34-year-old’s body was discovered buried in a flower bed in the back garden of her flat in Kew, south-west London.
Belorusov fled to Estonia but was brought back to Britain to face trial for her murder, jurors have heard.
Giving evidence in his defence, Belorusov told jurors how he was born in northern Russia where his father was stationed in the military, and not Estonia as previously thought.
He served in the navy for four years before joining his best friend in London to practise his English in 2009, he said.
Starting out working in nightclubs, he worked as an extra in films, progressing to fight choreography for two years, he said.
Asked about his finances, he said: “It was always changing. Sometimes I had to work 100 hours a week. I was never really wealthy.”
He met Ms Garcia-Bertaux at a gig where a colleague played drums in a band and they got together after their first date, jurors heard.
He told the court he liked her because she was “different” and “not very snobby”.
He said: “We spent the whole of the night walking and walking and walking and in the morning I decided to get to her place and she invited me over. She said ‘yes’ and I never left.”
On their relationship, he said: “It was absolutely fine. We had arguments, we had disagreements like any couple but everything was OK.”
They would row about food and money and “surprises that come out of nowhere”, he said.
“Several times … Laureline did not have a job for a few months,” he told the court.
“Her job was to take care of the bills and I would give her money to pay the bills and at some moment, two or three months later, we would receive a knock from the bailiffs trying to take our possessions.”
The pair split up in 2016 shortly after they moved to Putney, the defendant said.
“It was a slow build-up over years,” he added.
“We were on and off before but since the second we moved into Putney, 10 days later we had to put down our dog Jazz, a Rottweiler, and it was the only thing connecting us.
“A week after that, we were no longer a couple.”
Belorusov said he owed her nothing and left behind all the furniture he had bought for the new home.
The defendant said he moved to Tottenham, north London, with a new girlfriend who he began seeing that summer.
Belorusov insisted he had suffered from cancer with “pancreatic complications” and received drug trials in Sussex, Kent and Ipswich.
The defendant said his symptoms were at times so severe he would cry.
Martin Rutherford QC, for the defence, asked if the cancer ever caused disputes in the relationship.
Belorusov replied: “I had alienated myself from everyone to be honest.”
Earlier, the court heard that inquiries had been made to find out if the defendant had received any treatment in London but there was no record of him at hospitals across the capital.
Further police inquiries were made in East Grinstead, East Sussex, but no health clinics in the area offered cancer treatment.
Belorusov denies murder and the trial continues.