A wealthy but lonely woman with a side line as an amateur escort was befriended and duped by two career conmen who murdered her and systematically stole all of her worldly goods, a court heard yesterday.
The two men –prison friends and described as charming and brilliant liars – killed Carole Waugh, 49, at her £600,000 flat and immediately set about stealing her assets to pay for lavish hotel stays and to fund their gambling addictions, the Old Bailey was told.
Ms Waugh, a former accounts clerk who had been operating under the name "poshtottyfun" on an adult website, was stabbed in the neck in the bedroom of her £600,000 central London flat in April last year before her accounts were emptied, her flat mortgaged and her shares stolen, the jury was told.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds was plundered and spent on gambling, gold bullion, coins and krugerrands before her body was finally found three-and-a-half months later hidden inside a car in a lock up, said Patrick Gibbs QC for the prosecution.
Rakesh Bhayani, 41, a married man with a young daughter, and Nicholas Kutner, 48, had already been arrested on suspicion of fraud before the body was found, the court was told.
Mr Bhayani, of Wembley, northwest London, and described by an acquaintance as a "mad Indian gambler", could have first met Ms Waugh after he responded to her advert as an escort, the court heard.
The pair had an “intimate” relationship and she thought he was her friend, lent him £40,000 and even visited him four times in prison after he was jailed for an earlier offence, said Mr Gibbs. In a reference to his legal team, she wrote that he “kind, considerate and always wants to help people”.
But the jury was told that on his release, he “planned that she should die” to secure her wealth and worked with Mr Kutner who was “hanging around in the shadows” to carry out the killing and conceal what they had done. “She thought he was her friend but you may decide… Mr Bhayani doesn’t really do friends,” Mr Gibbs told the jury.
“Whoever struck the fatal blow or blows, 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.
Her body was crammed into a holdall, put in the boot of a car and then moved around a number of car parks, the court heard. A plan to dump her body in an isolated spot in the Cotswolds was abandoned and it was finally left in a lock up in New Malden, south London.
Ms Waugh, who once worked in Libya as an accounts clerk for an oil company, did not have a regular job but had “plenty of money and that was to prove her undoing”, the court was told.
As well as her flat, she had savings, shares and jewellery and an income for working as an escort. The jewellery was never found apart from two Cartier bracelets found on her dead body.
“They were professional conmen and life-long gamblers that’s principally what they did with their lives,” said Mr Gibbs. “They have a long history of tricking people and defrauding people to get their hands on the large sums of money that they require in order to feed their gambling habits.
“The two men knew each other from prison… they both had a taste for grand and expensive things but above all both were gripped by a compulsion to gamble,” he said.
Ms Waugh died just as Mr Bhayani was coming under increasing pressure to repay debts to her and at least one other creditor, the court heard. She was putting pressure on Mr Bhayani and had threatened to go to his daughter’s private school and spill the beans on his past unless he repaid her, the court was told.
The increasingly desperate Mr Bhayani allegedly contacted some associates suggesting that they burgle Ms Waugh’s flat then split the proceeds of the cash that she kept there, the jury was told.
And around the day she died, Mr Bhayani – posing as heart surgeon Ricky Patel - went into a jewellery shop opposite Claridge’s Hotel off Bond Street and tried to buy a diamond ring and a bracelet costing more than £100,000 using counterfeit cash, the court was told.
When the assistant declined to accept a cash payment, he left tipping the security guard with a fake Rolex watch for looking after his Range Rover, the court was told.
Mr Gibbs said that Mr Bhayani – who was routinely unfaithful to his wife - was attempting to save his marriage but his family appeared to have been in the dark about his lifestyle and he was living a “complete double life” after he came out of prison in March 2012.
They believed that he was getting treatment for his gambling addiction at a rehabilitation centre, the court heard. He persuaded a friend with a London flat to pretend it was a rehab centre and that they worked there when his wife visited, the court heard.
Both men have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud but deny murder. A third man, Elie Khoury, 40, is on trial for conspiracy to defraud.
The case continues.
Who was Carole Waugh?
The victim Carole Waugh was a “Walter Mitty” character searching for romance but operated as an escort under the moniker of poshtottyfun on an adult website, the court was told.
Ms Waugh, 49, She was described as good company, but lonely and looking for love. She spent the last 18 months of her life meeting a lot of men on a website called Adultwork and Craigslist and went by the name of Sarah, the court was told.
Her profile described herself as an “enthusiastic amateur, a true girlfriend experience and interested in lots of good clean adult fun”. She had sex with some of the men, many of them paying, but those tracked down by police said that she appeared less interested in the money than the company.
Her last message on the site appeared a day or so before the prosecution claim she was killed and the messages from men continued after her death. While her escort activities were a significant part of her life, it played no part in her death, the court was told.
Ms Waugh had “slightly fanciful” notions about herself and gave the impression that her life was more interesting and successful than it actually was. She over-exaggerated her jobs – she had worked as an accounts clerk in Libya - and showed off perhaps “disguising some of her disappointments in her life”, said Mr Gibbs.
She had a lengthy relationship after meeting someone on a dating website, but appears to have been duped by Mr Bhayani whom she described as “one of the good guys”.
She was wealthy with assets in shares and jewellery as well as her flat that she described to her family as “her pension”. Even after her accounts were cleared and home mortgaged, police found £3,000 hidden away in her flat that her alleged murderers had failed to discover, the court was told.
She was last seen by her family shortly over Easter when she travelled to Durham to see her brother and mother. Her mother last had telephone contact about three days before she died.