A CONMAN is today starting a life term behind bars after stabbing to death a wealthy County Durham woman in her flat.
Rakesh Bhayani, 41, was sentenced at the Old Bailey yesterday for the murder of Carole Waugh, said to have been a lonely woman who worked as an amateur escort and who believed that he was her friend.
He was told he must serve a minimum term of 27 years after killing Ms Waugh – who was originally from Haswell and went to school in Peterlee – hiding her body in the boot of a car and spending her money.
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 which was then stored in a central London car park before being left in a rented garage.
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.
Before the sentencing, a statement from Ms Waugh’s family was read out in which she was described as “loving, supportive and great fun”.
The statement, signed by her brother Christopher Waugh, spoke of the “disbelief, dismay, darkness” as the family had to “face our worst fears” in the wake of the murder.