Laureline Garcia-Bertaux murder: Man jailed for life for strangling French film producer

Belorusov killed his former girlfriend to avoid exposure ‘as a complete fraud’, Old Bailey judge says

Vincent Wood
Saturday 05 October 2019 00:59
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Belorusov has been jailed at the Old Bailey for life with a minimum term of 24 years
Belorusov has been jailed at the Old Bailey for life with a minimum term of 24 years

A man who murdered his French film producer ex-girlfriend and buried her in a shallow grave in her London garden has been jailed for at least 24 years.

Kirill Belorusov, 32, was convicted of strangling Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34 – a killing he covered up by sending fake messages to her family as he made his getaway to his native Estonia.

Ms Garcia-Bertaux was found naked, bound and wrapped in bin bags in a flower bed in her garden in Kew, southwest London, a day after she was first reported missing on 5 March.

The defendant was arrested in the Estonian capital of Tallinn – and was accused of deploying a web of lies both before and after his killing.

The Old Bailey heard he had falsely claimed to have cancer, and told his victim he had bought a new home that he was going to help her move into. He murdered the 34-year-old shortly before the fictional move-in date.

Passing down his sentence, Nicholas Hilliard QC said Belorusov killed his former girlfriend to avoid exposure “as a complete fraud”.

He added: “Having seen you giving evidence, I’m sure you held yourself in high regard.

“You could not bear the thought of you being exposed more widely as a total and cruel fraud.

“It was, I’m afraid, all about you. I am satisfied you killed her in an effort to stop being exposed as an imposter and fraud.”

Despite being employed in bars and nightclubs, Belorusov claimed to have been a movie stuntman and a casino bodyguard for high rollers.

The court heard he met Ms Garcia-Bertaux in 2009 – but the couple split up in 2017, after she complained that he was a “slob” and would “needle her about her weight”.

After killing Ms Garcia-Bertaux, the defendant was captured on CCTV buying items including an axe and rubble sacks in Homebase to dispose of her body.

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And as he made his escape he sent text messages from Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s phone to her friends – saying she was planning a “boob job” or “lypo” and expressing her happiness at the fictional home he had invented.

A jury deliberated for less than two hours to find Belorusov guilty of murder.

Martin Rutherford QC told the court: “There is a particular feature of this case which has given it a very distinctive flavour. That is the level, extent and breadth of the defendant’s dishonesty.

“The reality is one cannot rely on anything Kirill Belorusov says. He is someone who lies and lies and lies brazenly to this courtroom over and over and over again.

“He is someone who believes in his power to tell lies and his power to be believed.”

Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s body was quickly recovered after she was reported missing by worried friends, concerned that she had not been seen at her PR-firm workplace.

Away from the office, she was employed as a producer in television and film, and had previously worked with Dame Joan Collins on the 2018 short film Gerry.

Following the guilty verdict, the victim’s mother Federique Bertaux said in a statement: “The death of one’s own child goes against nature.

“There is not a moment during the day I don’t think of my Laureline. I can’t touch her, I can’t kiss her any more. I watch videos of her just to hear her voice, hear her laugh, to see how she moves.

“I would give anything to hear her happy moments, sad moments, and to hear her say, ‘mum I love you’.”

Additional reporting by PA

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