A RICH woman was murdered by professional conmen with gambling habits who then recruited women to pose as their victim, a court heard.
Carole Waugh, 49, pictured, who grew up in Haswell and went to school in Peterlee, was stabbed in the neck at her flat in Marylebone in London.
Rakesh Bhayani, 41, and Nicholas Kutner, 48, deny murdering Miss Waugh, whose remains were found three and a half months after she went missing.
Her s body was found in a car inside a garage on the outskirts of the capital on August 2, with the court hearing she may have died on the night of April 16.
Patrick Gibbs QC, prosecuting at the Old Bailey, 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.
“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 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 had a history of tricking and defrauding people to fund their gambling habit and had met through prison, Mr Gibbs said.
As soon as Miss Waugh was dead, women impersonated her and, at Bhayani’s instigation, pretended to be her on the telephone to banks and in shops.
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, adding the two had been intimate in the past.