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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 16:43 GMT
Man guilty of 'first date' murder
Kate Beagley
Kate Beagley's body was found in woodland in Hertfordshire
A fitness instructor who said a woman stabbed herself 31 times while on a first date with him has been found guilty of her murder.

Karl Taylor, 27, of Covent Garden, London, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years at the Old Bailey for killing Kate Beagley.

Miss Beagley, a 32-year-old manager from Surrey, was found with head and neck wounds in a wood in Hertfordshire.

Taylor told the court she committed suicide using a knife he dropped.

Miss Beagley's naked body was found four days later dumped in Oxhey Wood.

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

The prosecution told the court he went on the date intending to murder her, hiding the knife up his sleeve as the two of them sat in the Roebuck pub in Richmond Hill.

Karl Taylor
Taylor told police he just wanted Miss Beagley's car

The couple had met a few days earlier at a nightclub in London and exchanged telephone numbers.

However, police were later told, by a woman who shared a table with the couple during their date, that Miss Beagley made no effort to talk to Taylor and appeared to be ignoring him.

Taylor stabbed Miss Beagley to death as they sat on a park bench at a beauty spot overlooking the River Thames at Richmond.

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

The court heard he then told detectives: "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."

'Hysterical'

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

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

Kate was a loving, thoughtful daughter, sister and friend, as devoted to us all as we were to her
Alan Beagley

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

But giving evidence in court, Taylor told the Old Bailey Miss Beagley had stabbed herself more than 30 times.

He said: "I saw her prodding herself and she was moving her head and her neck towards the knife like you would do if you were hysterical."

He said that after she finished, he realised she had died.

A letter Taylor wrote to Miss Beagley's parents, which was never passed to them, was read out in court.

In it he described Kate as "a kind but unhappy girl" and "an angel in the dark".

He added: "Without any doubt what I did was wrong. But ask yourself this - whose life have I really taken?"

'Foul deed'

Jailing Taylor, Judge Giles Forrester said: "You took advantage of the vulnerability of that girl for your own ends.

"Having carried out this foul deed, you took away and callously concealed this body, adding to the distress of her family and friends."

Speaking outside court, Miss Beagley's father, Alan, said his family's lives had been turned upside down by her death.

"Kate was a loving, thoughtful daughter, sister and friend, as devoted to us all as we were to her," he said.

"She was great fun to be with and is missed tremendously by everyone who knew her. She had a gung-ho approach to life and lived it to the full.

"We cherish and are grateful for all the memories of the wonderful times we spent together."

Det Ch Insp Mark Preston-Heard added: "This was a tragic and senseless loss of life.

"Kate was a totally innocent young woman who had her life cut short when she had so much to live for."



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