Conman jailed for murder of ‘lonely woman’

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A conman has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years after stabbing to death a wealthy woman in her flat, hiding her body in the boot of a car and spending her money.

Rakesh Bhayani, 41, was sentenced at the Old Bailey for the murder of Carole Waugh, said to have been a lonely woman who worked as an escort and who believed that he was her friend.

A jury convicted Bhayani of the murder on Wednesday.

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.

Police described Bhayani as “a confidence trickster who murdered her with the sole intention of stripping her assets and the belongings she had worked hard for”.

Sentencing Bhayani, Mr Justice Wilkie said he “ruthlessly targeted” Ms Waugh and “left her body to rot”. He said the murder and subsequent dumping of the body was done with “greed, callousness and total lack of any regard” for her. The murder was “arising out of an argument about money”, and the judge described Ms Waugh as a “risk-taker and manifestly vulnerable to conmen”.

He said: “Without a second thought, you calmly and comprehensively set about stealing her identity. You took steps to ensure her body would not be found for a sufficient time.”

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

Mr Justice Wilkie sentenced Bhayani to life with a minimum of 27 years in jail. He 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.

Co-accused Nicholas Kutner, 48, was jailed for a total of 13 years – seven years for perverting the course of justice by concealing the death, and six years for conspiracy to defraud. As the two men were taken down after the sentencing, they expressed no emotion.

Mr Justice Wilkie 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”.

The court heard earlier that Bhayani had a “deep-seated and unavoidable addiction to gambling”.

The judge said Kutner was in the flat when Bhayani murdered Ms Waugh and was then “on board with the actions to conceal her death and thwart the investigation” into her murder.