A bar worker has been found guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend, a film producer, before burying her in a shallow grave.
Kirill Belorusov, 32, fatally strangled Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, before going shopping for tools to dispose of her body. She was found naked, bound and wrapped in bin bags in a flower bed in her garden in Kew, south-west London, a day after friends reported her missing on 5 March.
Belorusov had sent text messages from Garcia-Bertaux’s phone to her friends in an attempt to cover his tracks before fleeing to his home country of Estonia. He denied murder after being arrested in the capital, Tallinn, under a European arrest warrant and brought back to the UK.
A jury at the Old Bailey found him guilty on Monday after deliberating for less than two hours. Belorusov closed his eyes and nodded at the jury as the verdict was delivered.
The judge, Nicholas Hilliard QC, said he would sentence Belorusov on Friday.
Belorusov worked in bars and nightclubs but claimed to have been a stuntman and a casino bodyguard for wealthy individuals. He said he worked on the Hollywood film World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, but the online IMDb film database listing, which included 148 people under the heading “stunts”, does not feature his name.
The court heard he met Garcia-Bertaux, a French national, in 2009, but the couple separated in 2017 after she complained he was a “slob” and would “needle her about her weight”.
Belorusov owed her thousands of pounds and made constant excuses to avoid repaying her, even claiming he was dying of cancer. In November last year she begged him to give her the money in a text message which said: “I don’t think you realise how bad the situation is! I can barely pay my rent this month and food for myself and the dogs!”
Belorusov travelled to London in March under the pretext of helping Garcia-Bertaux move house, having lied about finding her a new flat.
The prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC, said: “The last few minutes of Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s life must have been truly terrifying as this defendant squeezed the very life out of her, and as she struggled for her final breath, there must have been a moment of terrible clarity when she realised that the man she cared for was a liar, a cheat and a killer.
“The killing itself was the work of three to four long slow minutes in which he calmly and methodically killed the woman he claimed to have cared for and then went shopping for the items he needed to help him dispose of her body.”
Belorusov was captured on CCTV buying items, including an axe and rubble sacks, in Homebase to dispose of her body, jurors heard. He then sent text messages from Garcia-Bertaux’s phone to her friends saying she was planning a “boob job” and expressing her delight at her new fictitious home.
One message said: “I went to see the house it’s BEAUTIFUL! And Kirill gave me another £7,000 so I’m going on a shopping spree… And he transferred another £10,000 a week ago… And he left…Housewarming party is coming real soon…So hot tub and boob lift.”
Belorusov fled to Estonia and Garcia-Bertaux was reported missing by friends after she failed to turn up to her job as an executive assistant at the PR firm Golin.
She also worked as a producer in the television and film industry and had worked with Dame Joan Collins on the 2018 short film Gerry. The actor said she was “shocked by the horrifying news” of Garcia-Bertaux’s death.
Bar worker found guilty of murdering ex-girlfriend – The Guardian