London - A film producer was strangled by her ‘callous’ ex-boyfriend and buried in a shallow grave in her back garden, a court was told on Monday.
Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, was allegedly murdered by Kirill Belorusov at her upmarket suburban home after she asked him to repay substantial debts.
The 32-year-old barman, who once claimed he could "kill without a trace", bound her hands and feet with duct tape, wrapped her naked body in bin bags and placed it under a flowerbed, before he fled to his native Estonia, a jury was told.
He even sent text messages from Miss Garcia-Bertaux’s phone to her friends to give the impression that she was still alive, the Old Bailey heard.
Her body was found in the garden of her £400 000 ground floor flat in the wealthy suburb of Kew, south-west London, a day after she was reported missing on March 5.
Belorusov was extradited from the Estonian capital Tallinn to the UK two weeks later and charged with murder.
Miss Garcia-Bertaux, a French national who lived in London, met Belorusov in 2009 and they were together for eight years. They eventually split up after she complained he was a ‘slob’.
In the months before her death, Belorusov promised to repay the money he owed her and said he had found her a ‘charming’ house to move into.
When his promises did not materialise, Miss Garcia-Bertaux, originally from Aix-en-Provence, begged him to settle the debt, telling him she could barely pay the rent.
Belorusov claimed he was suffering side effects of medication he was taking and even claimed he had cancer to avoid repaying her, it was alleged.
In March he travelled from Tallinn to London on the pretext of helping her move into a new house in Kent.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said: "He deceived her with promises of settling his debt to her and he lied to her about the house. Having killed her he did all he could to get away with murder. He buried her body in the garden in order that he could leave the country before she was found, he sent messages to her friends in order that they might believe she was alive and well."
"It is difficult to conceive of someone behaving in a more calculated or callous manner."
Posing as Miss Garcia-Bertaux, the defendant allegedly sent texts to her friends saying she was planning a "boob job" after being repaid by her ex.
One message read: "Kirill gave me another £7 000 (R106 000) so I’m going on a shopping spree...
"And he transferred another £10 000 (R184 000) a week ago... And he left...Housewarming party is coming real soon...So hot tub and boob lift."
Miss Garcia-Bertaux’s friends found the messages uncharacteristic, particularly the description of how she planned to spend the money, jurors were told.
She was reported missing after failing to turn up for work at PR firm Golin, where she was an executive assistant. Her body was found by police under a flowerbed. Belorusov denies murder. The trial continues.