Page last updated at 19:55 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Killer heard praying found guilty

George Maben
George Maben was filmed travelling to Maureen Cosgrove's home

A man overheard praying for forgiveness has been found guilty of murdering his pregnant girlfriend's mother.

George Maben, 45, from Rosehill, Surrey, strangled 65-year-old widow Maureen Cosgrove at her home in Carshalton, south London, in March.

Maben was arrested after police bugging his car heard him say: "God, forgive me for what I have done."

The Old Bailey heard that Maben previously argued with Mrs Cosgrove. He was found guilty of murder.

The court heard that Mrs Cosgrove's daughter Lucy Rees, 34, had been expecting Maben's baby at the time of the killing.

'Breaking me down'

They had lived for a few months at Mrs Cosgrove's home but at the time of the murder Maben was no longer living at the address.

Prosecuting, Anthony Glass QC said Mrs Cosgrove was asphyxiated with a ligature in her kitchen after arriving home from the dentist on 24 March.

Maben was filmed on CCTV taking a bus from his mother's home to Mrs Cosgrove's home and putting on gloves during the journey, the court heard.

Later that day he met Mrs Rees and they returned to Mrs Cosgrove's house to find the body. Fibres from Mrs Cosgrove's clothing were found on clothes Maben had been wearing.

Maureen Cosgrove
Mabin argued with Mrs Cosgrove, her daughter said

Police subsequently placed a covert listening device in a Ford Focus used by Maben and, on 9 April, he was recorded praying out loud.

In the recording Mr Maben said: "Please God, help me... for me and Lucy eliminated from all police inquiries and everything's all right, please God help me.

"I just could not take it any more. Every single day, she was breaking me down. Please God will you forgive me? Please God, sorry."

Mr Glass said Mr Maben's words "could and should be interpreted as a confession to murder".

"Clearly, the relationship between the defendant and his girlfriend's mother had seriously deteriorated," he said.

"With her out of the way, the defendant could see a future for himself, Lucy, her children and the unborn baby, without the constraints imposed by Maureen Cosgrove."

'Callous and brutal'

Mrs Rees told the court that Maben argued with her mother.

She said: "I believed they got on OK. I wouldn't say they were the best friends but they weren't enemies."

Mrs Cosgrove would get annoyed about Maben not taking his shoes off when he came into the house and the fact he was staying at her house rent-free and not working, Mrs Rees said.

The acts of kindness we showed (Maben) have been repaid with the callous and brutal murder of our mother
Maureen Cosgrove's son John

Asked about Maben's prayer, Mrs Rees said: "He said to me he had prayed to God for forgiveness because he had taken £50 from his mother's handbag.

"He said he had never stolen anything from her handbag before but he was low because he was out of work and didn't have any money."

Maben was remanded in custody, to be sentenced on Friday.

Outside court, Mrs Cosgrove's son John said: "As the partner of our sister, George Maben was welcomed and included within our family group.

"The acts of kindness we showed have been repaid with the callous and brutal murder of our mother."

He added: "We will never come to terms with the nature of our loss but this verdict gives us some closure in the knowledge that her killer has now been brought to account and our hope is that she may now rest in peace."

Det Ch Insp John McFarlane said: "It is terrible - (Mrs Rees) has a child by the killer of her own mother.

"Maben is a cool, manipulative individual who sought to control her."

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