Carole Waugh murder: Conman Bhayani jailed for 27 years

Carole Waugh
Image caption The court heard Carole Waugh had been looking for love in the months before her death

A serial conman has been sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of murdering a wealthy woman.

Rakesh Bhayani, 41, from Wembley, north London, was ordered at the Old Bailey to serve a minimum of 27 years.

Carole Waugh, 49, was stabbed in her flat in Marylebone, central London, last year. Her body was found in a garage in south London months later.

Sentencing Bhayani, Mr Justice Wilkie said he "ruthlessly targeted" Ms Waugh and "left her body to rot".

Co-accused Nicholas Kutner, 48, from Kentish Town, north London, who had been cleared of murder but found guilty of perverting the course of justice by concealing Ms Waugh's death, was jailed for a total of 13 years.

He was sentenced to seven years for perverting the course of justice by concealing the death and six years for conspiracy to defraud.

'Broken hearted'

Bhayani was also sentenced to six years for perverting the course of justice and six years for conspiracy to defraud - both of which will run concurrently with his life sentence.

Following sentencing, her brother Christopher Waugh, 55, said: "They will sleep easily in their beds as they showed no remorse at all. I just can't envisage any human being treating another human being like that."

Mr Waugh said the police's handling of the case had been "frustrating".

"Right up to July the police did not take our concern seriously," he said.

"They thought Carole was a grown woman, out enjoying herself with friends."

Investigating Officer Justin Davies, who took over the case when it turned into a homicide investigation in July 2012, said: "The time it took for the homicide investigation to start up led to delays, in particular in areas of evidence that we would ordinarily look at.

Image caption Rakesh Bhayani was described as a "confidence trickster" in court

"Bhayani and Kutner cleared out the flat which impacted on forensic and CCTV opportunities.

"Carole's lifestyle itself caused several difficulties. She was engaged as an escort, which is a profession where you put yourself at risk. You are meeting people that you ordinarily would not have met before."

'Breathtakingly wicked'

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.

Mr Justice Wilkie said the murder and subsequent dumping of Ms Waugh's body was done with "greed, callousness and total lack of any regard" for her.

He said Bhayani's actions in persisting with the fraud after killing Ms Waugh were "breathtakingly wicked".

The murder had arisen "out of an argument about money", and the judge described the victim as a "risk-taker and manifestly vulnerable to conmen".

"Without a second thought, you calmly and comprehensively set about stealing her identity," Mr Justice Wilkie said.

Image caption Nicholas Kutner was found guilty of perverting the course of justice

The judge said Bhayani embarked on the complete "asset-stripping of her persona".

Bhayani denied murder but admitted perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to defraud.

'Sheer greed'

Ms Waugh's family were in court for the sentencing and heard the murder was "not premeditated or pre-planned".

The judge said Bhayani was the "instigator and chief organiser of the fraud", and said the pair spent Ms Waugh's money on "hotels, casinos and escorts".

Mr Justice Wilkie said the concealment of Ms Waugh's body was "a job for two people" and said they were both "motivated by sheer greed".

During the trial, prosecutors told the jury that "the evidence strongly suggests" Ms Waugh, originally from Haswell in County Durham, was stabbed in the neck at her home on 16 April 2012.

The court heard the former oil company worker was lonely and had been looking for love in the months before her death, as well as working as an escort.

She considered Bhayani a friend and had visited him in prison, lending him about £40,000, the court was told.

Following sentencing, her brother said it was "quite a shock" for him and his family to learn that his sister had been working as an escort.

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