A conman has been sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of murdering a wealthy woman who was stabbed to death in her flat.
Rakesh Bhayani, 41, was convicted by the jury at the Old Bailey of killing Carole Waugh, who was said to have been a lonely woman who worked as an amateur escort and who believed that he was her friend.
Sentencing Bhayani, Mr Justice Wilkie said he “ruthlessly targeted” Ms Waugh and “left her body to rot”.
The judge said the killer must serve at least 27 years for the murder.
Bhayani had admitted perverting the course of justice by concealing the death.
Co-accused Nicholas Kutner, 48, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of perverting the course of justice by concealing the death. He was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Both men – described in court as professional conmen and lifelong gamblers who knew each other through prison – admitted conspiracy to defraud.
Ms Waugh, 49, died at her flat, where she lived alone, in Marylebone, central London.
Her body was found in a rented garage in New Malden, southwest London, nearly four months after she disappeared.
During that time, Bhayani withdrew money from Ms Waugh’s accounts and on one occasion pretended to be her brother in an attempt to sell her £600,000 home.
He also hired a number of women to impersonate her and buy expensive handbags from Chanel and Selfridges.
The 41-year-old claimed in court that he only found out about Ms Waugh’s death seven days after she was killed.
He said he did not contact police because he was involved in a fraud with Kutner and Ms Waugh and feared he would be linked to her murder.
Bhayani, of Wembley, northwest London, told the court that he went with Kutner to Ms Waugh’s flat to remove her body from under a bed.
He said he put the corpse into a bag which was carried to a blue Volkswagen Golf that was initially left in a central London car park before being driven to the lock-up.
The judge said the murder and subsequent dumping of the body was done with “greed, callousness and total lack of any regard” for Ms Waugh.
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”.
The judge told Bhayani: “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.”
Mr Justice Wilkie said Bhayani embarked on the complete “asset-stripping of her persona”.
Ms Waugh’s family were in court for the sentencing and heard the murder was “not premeditated or pre-planned”.
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