Woman 'murdered by internet date' and left in suitcase

Image caption,
Ms Questin's body was discovered near a dried-up pond by a dog walker

A care assistant looking for marriage was murdered and dumped in a suitcase by a man she had met on the internet, a court has heard.

IT specialist Clinton Bailey, 36, of Malpas Road, Brockley, south-east London, denies murdering 37-year-old Leah Questin in September last year.

The body of Ms Questin was discovered in the case beside a dried up pond near Cliffe, in Kent, last September.

The Old Bailey heard that Mr Bailey had serious money problems at the time.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said the South African, was also looking for a relationship despite already having a girlfriend.

'Possible marriage'

He said Ms Questin, who was from the Philippines but living in Sneyd Road, Cricklewood, north-west London, had been friends with another South African but he did not want the relationship to go further.

"Leah Questin was searching for affection, a relationship, and possibly marriage - some form of permanent relationship," Mr Wright said.

The court heard that Mr Bailey had placed an advert on the Gumtree website using the name Jason Goode.

Image caption,
Police cordoned off the area surrounding the pond in Cliffe

Ms Questin contacted him the same day and soon they were regularly in touch.

Ms Questin later withdrew £900 from her bank account and sent Mr Bailey a text saying she loved him.

On 12 September, Oyster card records showed Ms Questin travelling towards Mr Bailey's flat, and later that evening her card was used to make a cash withdrawal of £180 in south London, by which time, according to prosecutors, she was dead.

Jurors were told that over the next nine days the account was "systematically drained" of more than £2,000 in a series of withdrawals on an almost daily basis.

Large suitcase

Jurors were then told that CCTV captured Mr Bailey using her Oyster card to go shopping to buy a large suitcase at the Elephant and Castle shopping centre.

Mr Wright said: "He placed her body in that suitcase and then waited for the opportunity to dispose of it. Firstly he emptied her bank account on an almost daily basis."

The remains of Ms Questin were discovered "squeezed" into a bulging suitcase on 24 September.

A small amount of blood with DNA matching hers was found on a pillow in Mr Bailey's flat.

Mr Wright told the court: "People do not normally end up naked in a suitcase in a remote spot when they have died a sudden, unexpected and natural death."

The trial continues.

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