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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 17:55 GMT
Woman 'was killed on first date'
Kate Beagley
Kate Beagley's body was found in woodland in Hertfordshire
A "successful businesswoman" was stabbed to death while on a first date with a man she had met in a nightclub, the Old Bailey has heard.

Karl Taylor, 27, denies murdering Kate Beagley, a 32-year-old manager, in Richmond, south-west London last year.

Peter Clarke QC, prosecuting, said Mr Taylor had led police to woods in South Oxhey, Herts, where the body was found.

Mr Taylor claims he took the knife to steal Miss Beagley's Volkswagen Golf car, but stabbed her after an argument.

'Stinging nettles'

Mr Clarke told the court the Crown did not accept Mr Taylor's version of what happened on 30 May 2007.

He said Mr Taylor chatted to his girlfriend, Lauren, on his mobile phone as he drove Miss Beagley's car with her body in the boot back through London in the early hours of the morning.

After stripping her body and dumping it in stinging nettles, Mr Taylor drove back down the M1 motorway and threw away her clothes and the murder weapon, Mr Clarke told the jury.

She noticed as they stepped past her that Kate was pretty and smiling, and perhaps it was women's intuition, but she intuitively read the body language that they were on a first date
Peter Clarke QC

Over the next few days, the court was told, Mr Taylor "showed off his new car" to acquaintances and sold Miss Beagley's mobile phone to one of his friends.

Miss Beagley's father, Alan, reported his daughter missing and police soon traced Mr Taylor, who had met and danced with Miss Beagley, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, during a girls night out at CC nightclub in central London.

Mr Clarke told the court that Mr Taylor had admitted he hid a kitchen knife up his sleeve before going out on the date with Miss Beagley, a sales manager with British Gas.

'Pretty and smiling'

Mr Taylor, who told police he intended to steal her car, had accompanied Miss Beagley to the Roebuck pub on Star and Garter Hill overlooking the Thames at Richmond.

They had a drink and were last seen going outside by another customer, Susan Evans.

Map of south west London and Hertfordshire

Mr Clarke said: "She [Susan Evans] noticed as they stepped past her that Kate was pretty and smiling, and perhaps it was women's intuition, but she intuitively read the body language that they were on a first date."

Earlier, another customer in the pub noticed "the tall black man and the young white woman" and said she appeared distracted and was texting someone on her phone.

Mr Clarke said the text messages were to two of her girl friends. In one she said: "Out in Richmond. Have fun", and in the other "Missing it. Out on town."

Mr Taylor later told police they sat on a bench for a while before leaving and driving off in Miss Beagley's car.

Stabbed 31 times

He said he had lied to her about dropping his keys near the bench and when they returned they had an argument and he stabbed her.

Mr Clarke said Mr Taylor's version of events failed to explain why it was necessary to stab Miss Beagley 31 times, including in the face, neck and throat. She also had two defence injuries to her hands.

He said Miss Beagley's car was seen crossing Chiswick Bridge just before midnight and Mr Taylor was seen buying around 1 worth of diesel at a garage in Shepherds Bush shortly afterwards.

Mr Clarke pointed at a still photograph from CCTV of the car parked on the garage forecourt and told the jury: "In that image Kate Beagley's body is in the boot."

Frantic family

The morning after the murder Mr Taylor turned up at his mother's home in Notting Hill, west London, and offered to take his nephew to playschool in the VW Golf, which he claimed was his new car, the court heard.

Mr Taylor gave his mother some Marks & Spencer shopping vouchers which, the Crown claimed, probably belonged to Miss Beagley.

Her frantic family tried desperately to trace her and then called in the police.

Two days after Miss Beagley went missing a detective turned up at the flat of Mr Taylor's friend in west London and interviewed him for several hours before arresting him.

Mr Clarke said Mr Taylor had asked to relieve himself several times during the interview and police later found Miss Beagley's car keys hidden in the toilet.

The trial continues.

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