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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 15:26 GMT
A first date that ended in tragedy
By Chris Summers
BBC News

While murder on a first date is extremely rare, Kate Beagley's death will still serve as a terrifying reminder of the dangers of dating.

Kate Beagley
Kate Beagley's body was found in woodland in Hertfordshire

Her story would strike a chord with millions of young, single, self-confident women living in modern day Britain.

On a girls' night out in central London in May last year the 32-year-old went to a nightclub and was chatted up by a man.

Karl Taylor was a motormouth and he used his gift of the gab to talk Kate into exchanging phone numbers.

Over the next few days they exchanged calls and texts and eventually, on 30 May, they arranged to go out on their first date.

Kate told friends who she was going out with and texted several friends during the date.

We can't tell what happened in her case but our advice would always be that if someone makes you feel the least bit wary you should make an excuse and leave
Suzy Lamplugh Trust

They drove to a beauty spot on Richmond Hill, overlooking the Thames, and bought a drink at the Roebuck pub.

The couple chatted for a while and then went outside and sat on a bench to admire the view.

Nobody knows exactly what happened next and there were no eyewitnesses.

In one of the many different version of events Taylor later gave to police, he said that after a while they left in Kate's car but he lied to her and said he had lost his keys and must have left them by the bench.

Richmond Hill
The killing took place at this beauty spot in Richmond

By the time they returned it would have been dark.

Taylor, knowing the date had gone disastrously and sensing rejection, stabbed her repeatedly using a kitchen knife which he had brought on the date with him and hidden up his sleeve.

He then put her body in the boot of her car and drove through London.

As he drove he chatted on the phone to his girlfriend, Lauren Chan-Lok, who was unaware of where he had been and what he had done.

Taylor then stripped Kate Beagley's body and dumped it in nettles in woods at South Oxhey, near Watford, Hertfordshire.

As Taylor showed off his new car to friends - even giving his young nephew a lift to playschool in it - Kate's father Alan became frantic with worry when she failed to return and did not answer her mobile phone.

In the following days her friends posted a "Help find Kate" page on the social networking website Facebook.

Map of south west London and Hertfordshire
Kate's body was driven through London and dumped at South Oxhey

Kate's decomposing body was discovered a week later and the trail quickly led to Taylor.

He was initially evasive and claimed Kate had dropped him off in Twickenham after their date.

Later he switched to "no comment" responses and was charged with murder.

The trial heard from two prison officers, Claude Williams and Joseph Cloran, who claimed Taylor admitted killing Kate.

New story

Then, with only a month to go before his trial, Taylor came up with a new story.

He now claimed that Kate had stabbed herself to death.

Bizarrely he claimed he himself had brought the knife that night because he felt suicidal but when it fell out of his sleeve and onto the floor Kate picked it up and started "prodding" herself in the neck.

When Taylor entered the witness box Peter Clarke QC, prosecuting, coolly unpicked his nonsensical story.

Under cross examination Taylor became flustered and argumentative.

Mr Clarke rolled up a piece of paper to make a "knife" six inches long and asked Taylor to use it to show the court just how Kate had killed herself.

Taylor refused, claiming he was "not in the right emotional state", but Judge Giles Forrester told him he was a witness and must answer the question.

The defendant reluctantly agreed and gently prodded himself in the neck with the paper "knife".

At the end of a date you should never feel under pressure to leave with someone or go to their home
Lucie Blackman Trust

Among the 31 injuries she received were blows which severed her carotid artery and her jugular vein but Taylor insisted she was standing throughout.

Mr Clarke then asked him why, as a fitness instructor with martial arts training, Taylor had not stepped in to disarm Kate and save her life.

Taylor said it was an "awkward situation" and he did not know how to intervene safely. He accused Mr Clarke of being "outlandish".

"What is outlandish about suggesting that you try to save her life?" asked Mr Clarke.

Family watched

Taylor sidestepped the question and added: "I didn't know this girl. I just didn't know what to do."

Kate's family and friends watched Taylor's performance in the witness box and were there again when the jury returned the guilty verdict.

Ann Ellidge, from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said Kate's death was all the more shocking because "Kate was already doing the right thing in meeting a public place and keeping in touch with her friends".

She said: "We can't tell what happened in her case but our advice would always be that if someone makes you feel the least bit wary you should make an excuse and leave."

Matt Searle, from the Lucie Blackman Trust, said: "At the end of a date you should never feel under pressure to leave with someone or go to their home. If they are a good man then they will wait a few days and send you flowers."

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