Oct 11 2013
A wealthy woman was murdered by two professional conmen with gambling habits, who then recruited women to impersonate her so they could take her goods as well as her life, a court heard today.
Carole Waugh, 49, was stabbed in the neck in her flat in Marylebone, central London, the Old Bailey was told.
Rakesh Bhayani, 41, and Nicholas Kutner, 48, deny murdering Miss Waugh, who disappeared from her home last year and whose remains were found three and a half months later.
Patrick Gibbs QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "The Crown cannot say whose hand was on the weapon.
"But whoever struck the fatal blow, we say that Mr Bhayani and Mr Kutner planned it, and were responsible for it, and having taken her life, they then systematically took all her worldly goods as well."
Mr Gibbs said that Miss Waugh lived alone in a flat just off the Edgware Road.
"She wasn't married, she didn't have a steady boyfriend. She was, it seems, a lonely woman on the lookout for male company.
"She didn't have a regular job, she had done a number of jobs in the past, including having worked as an accounts clerk in Libya, in the oil industry, some years before, which she plainly had enjoyed, and about which she spoke a lot - sometimes, you may think, in rather exaggerated terms.
"She spoke about going back to Libya, or wanting to, in the future.
"She was a woman who had plenty of money. That was to prove her undoing.
"She owned her flat, it was worth more than £600,000, she had savings, shares, jewellery, of which she was proud, and a cash income from working as an amateur escort."
Bhayani and Kutner were professional conmen and lifelong gamblers, Mr Gibbs said.
"They have a long history of tricking people and defrauding people to get their hands on the large sums of money which they require in order to feed their gambling habits."
They knew each other through prison, and had a lot in common.
"They had a taste for grand and expensive things. Both were gripped by the same compulsion, to gamble."
As soon as Miss Waugh was dead, a number of women were used to impersonate her.
At Bhayani's instigation, they pretended to be Miss Waugh, on the telephone to banks, in shops, buying things.
"They were rehearsed by Mr Bhayani, nursemaided by Mr Bhayani and usually accompanied by Mr Bhayani around London, and on the telephone, stripping Carole Waugh's assets."
Mr Gibbs told the jury that the women would not be before them in the trial, which would focus on the murder and concealment of the murder.
Miss Waugh had known Bhayani for quite a while, visited him in prison, and lent him £40,000, Mr Gibbs said.
"It seems that she had been intimate with him at one time or another in the past," counsel added.
"She may have first met him through an advertisement of herself as an escort that she had placed on the internet.
"Like everyone else that has met Mr Bhayani, she was taken in by him.
"She thought that he was her friend, but you may decide by the end of this trial that Mr Bhayani doesn't really do friends.
"Once he had been released from prison, knowing how much she had, he planned that she should die."
Miss Waugh knew Kutner less well, and had not been intimate with him, Mr Gibbs said.
Miss Waugh's body was found on August 2, and from the state of her remains, she had been dead for many months, Mr Gibbs said.
She saw her mother and brother at their home near Durham on April 7 and 8 and spoke to her mother again a week later.
They became increasingly worried when they did not hear from her and reported her missing on May 7.
"The evidence strongly suggests that she died during the night of April 16/17 ," Mr Gibbs said.