Man guilty of murdering woman on first date

Fitness trainer Karl Taylor was found guilty today of murdering businesswoman Kate Beagley on their first date.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum set at 30 years.

Miss Beagley, a 32-year-old manager for Centrica, had 31 stab wounds to her face and neck when her naked body was found.

Cheers erupted from the public gallery when the Old Bailey jury returned a guilty verdict after two hours of deliberations.

Friends and family had launched a frantic internet search for Miss Beagley during the four days she was missing after meeting Taylor, 27, for a drink.

Taylor was arrested and led police to the body dumped in nettles in Oxhey Wood, north of London.

She had been driven there by him in the boot of her grey VW Golf car which Taylor told police he had intended to steal when he met Miss Beagley.

She was killed in a frenzied attack as they sat on a park bench at a beauty spot overlooking the River Thames in Richmond, south west London.

It was only yards away from multimillion-pound homes, including one owned by model Jerry Hall.

In court, Taylor, of Covent Garden, central London, denied the murder last May as he shed crocodile tears.

He cynically claimed Miss Beagley had committed suicide in front of him by prodding her head forward on to the knife after tearfully telling him of her problems.

Taylor demonstrated her actions using an envelope instead of a knife after being ordered to show the jury what happened by Judge Giles Forrester.

Taylor said after she finished: "I realised she passed away. I was crying profusely. I lay on the grass and looked at the sky."

But the Old Bailey was told Taylor had gone on the date armed with a knife.

He placed it up his sleeve as he sat with Miss Beagley in the Roebuck pub in Richmond Hill.

They met a few days before at the CC club in central London and exchanged phone numbers.

But during the date at the pub, Miss Beagley, of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, appeared to be ignoring him.

Maureen Roncone told police: "As soon as they sat down, the girl had her head down texting on her mobile phone.

"The man was talking to her but she was ignoring him, texting on her mobile.

"There was no conversation, only him talking to her. She continued texting. She was still texting when they left."

After going outside to admire the view, Taylor claimed they watched the stars and moon.

They left, driving back to London, but Miss Beagley was lured back when Taylor claimed he had left his keys on the bench.

Peter Clarke QC, prosecuting, said Taylor told police he stabbed Miss Beagley during an argument after telling her: "All I want is your car."

He told police: "She pushed me away. She was grabbing me and I stabbed her in the throat.

"I constantly and consistently cut her in the neck because she was going for my face."

Taylor stripped her body and washed it with mineral water before dumping it.

He said Taylor later threw the murder weapon, her clothing and unwanted belongings on the roadside by the M1.

Taylor later showed off his "new car" to friends and family. He sold Miss Beagley's mobile phone to a friend.

Taylor, who grew up in Notting Hill, west London, claimed to have good business qualifications but switched to being a fitness instructor.

He said he then worked as a personal trainer but gave it up because it was "laborious".

At the time of the murder, he was giving unpaid football coaching to schoolchildren.

Friends said he had mood swings - laughing and joking one minute and bursting into tears the next.

In 2002, he was given a community order for obtaining property by deception at his workplace. He claimed to have tried to get three foreign nationals into education.

He was also said to have been taken off a bridge by police some years ago, after climbing on to the outside, amid fears he would jump into the Thames.

He said it had been a "cry for help" because he was going through upheavals in his life.

On another occasion, police broke into his flat after an incident with his girlfriend had been exaggerated, he said.

In the spring of last year, he went to Charing Cross police station because he was worried about an ex-girlfriend but was "fobbed off with the Samaritans".