Killer jailed after police hear prayer for mercy

A murderer whose prayers for forgiveness were overheard by police who bugged his car was jailed for life yesterday. George Maben's "confession" was played to an Old Bailey jury, which found him guilty of murdering his girlfriend's wealthy mother. It was after detectives heard his emotional, whispered words "God, forgive me for what I have done" that they arrested Maben for strangling Maureen Cosgrove, 65.

Unemployed Maben, 45, of Rosehill, Surrey, denied murdering Mrs Cosgrove at her home in Carshalton Beeches, Surrey, on 24 March. Mrs Cosgrove was asphyxiated with a ligature in the kitchen of her £1m, five-bedroom home. Maben was the partner of her daughter Lucy Rees, 34, who was expecting his baby.

Mrs Cosgrove, the widow of a financial consultant, was a member of several community organisations. Maben told others that she did not approve when he tried to move with Lucy Rees into Mrs Cosgrove's house. Maben was seen on CCTV taking a bus to Mrs Cosgrove's home, putting on gloves during the journey. He later met Ms Rees and they returned to the house to find the body. Fibres from the dead woman's clothing were found on clothes Maben had been wearing.

Officers bugged a Ford Focus used by Maben, and on 9 April he was recorded begging for help from above. The recording said: "I just could not take it any more. Every single day, she was breaking me down. Please God will you forgive me? Please God, sorry."

Judge Jeremy Roberts ordered that Maben should serve a minimum of 13 years. The judge told him he was reducing the term which might have been expected because the murder was out of character and because Maben had been under pressure, seeing Mrs Cosgrove as an "obstacle" in his relationship with her daughter.

Outside court, Detective Chief Inspector John McFarlane said of Ms Rees: "It is terrible. She has a child by the killer of her own mother. Maben is a cool, manipulative individual who sought to control her."