A care assistant looking for love was murdered and dumped in a suitcase by a man she had met on the internet just weeks earlier, a court heard today.
The naked remains of 37-year-old Leah Questin were discovered squeezed into the case beside a dried up pond near Cliffe, Kent, in September last year.
IT specialist Clinton Bailey, 36, is alleged to have killed her before draining her bank account and looking for a chance to get rid of her body.
Bailey, a South African living in Malpas Road, Lewisham, south London, had financial problems, a jury was told. He denies murder.
Miss Questin, who was from the Philippines, had been friends with another South African called Anton Viljoen but he did not want the relationship to go further, the Old Bailey heard.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said: "Leah Questin was searching for affection, a relationship, and possibly marriage - some form of permanent relationship that could be more fulfilling than that which she had with Anton Viljoen.
"The defendant was also looking for a relationship. He already had a relationship with a girlfriend called Debra Jooste.
"But he also had another matter that was affecting his life. He had serious money problems at this time.
"He had reached a situation whereby his bank account was so heavily overdrawn that he could make no withdrawals on it. His credit card was to its limit and beyond. There were interest payments accruing."
The court heard that in August, Bailey had placed an advert on the Gumtree website using the name Jason Goode and an email address beginning "hi.iq.146".
It said that he was a "very intelligent 33-year-old living in south London", looking for a woman from the Philippines, jurors were told.
Miss Questin, who lived in Cricklewood, north-west London, contacted him the same day and soon they were regularly in touch, said Mr Wright.
Bailey told his girlfriend that he had to return to South Africa to visit his ailing mother but in fact he was apparently spending time with Miss Questin at his flat, the court heard.
She withdrew £900 from her bank account and sent Bailey a text saying she loved him, but he was still in email contact with his girlfriend giving the impression he was in South Africa, the court heard.
On September 12, Oyster card records showed Miss Questin travelling towards Bailey's flat, jurors were told.
Later that evening her card was used to make a cash withdrawal of £180 in south London - by which time prosecutors say she was dead.
Over the next nine days the account was "systematically drained" of more than £2,000 in a series of withdrawals on an almost daily basis, the court heard.
A message sent from her phone to Mr Viljoen that night that said "Good night honey, I am sleeping now", was alleged to have been sent by Bailey.
Miss Questin, described as a "conscientious employee" failed to turn up for work the next day.
CCTV captured Bailey using her Oyster card to go shopping to buy a large suitcase at the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, jurors heard.
Mr Wright said: "He placed her body in that suitcase and then waited for the opportunity to dispose of it. Firstly he emptied her bank account on an almost daily basis."
The "contorted" remains of Miss Questin, who was just 4ft 11in, were discovered "squeezed" into a bulging suitcase on September 24.
Jurors heard that when Bailey was arrested on suspicion of murder he said: "You're joking right?"
A small amount of blood with DNA matching hers was found on a pillow on his flat.
Mr Wright said: "People do not normally end up naked in a suitcase in a remote spot when they have died a sudden, unexpected and natural death."Reuse content