Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Praying murderer jailed for life

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

A man overheard praying for forgiveness after murdering his pregnant girlfriend's mother has been jailed for life by a judge at the Old Bailey.

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 bugged his car and heard him say: "God, forgive me for what I have done."

He must serve a minimum of 13 years in jail after being found guilty.

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

Covert device

Mrs Cosgrove was asphyxiated with a ligature in her kitchen after arriving home from the dentist on 24 March.

Earlier that day, 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.

Fibres from Mrs Cosgrove's clothing were found on clothes Maben had been wearing.

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

Maureen Cosgrove
Maben argued with Mrs Cosgrove, her daughter told the court

In the recording, 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."

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

Lucy Rees told the court her mother and Maben had argued but "got on OK".

Asked about Maben's prayer, Lucy Rees told the court: "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."

We have lost a loving mother and grandmother in a particularly horrific way
John Cosgrove, Mrs Cosgrove's son

Judge Jeremy Roberts said he was reducing the term which might have been expected from a pre-meditated murder because it was out of character and because Maben had been under pressure.

Nevertheless, the judge did not want anything he said to be interpreted as criticism of Mrs Cosgrove, who was the innocent victim of the crime.

He added: "It was no-one's fault that the situation developed where your relationship with Lucy, whom you loved deeply, and her mother, whom you must have seen as a obstacle, drove you to such an act of desperation."

In a statement to the judge, Mrs Cosgrove's son John said: "We have lost a loving mother and grandmother in a particularly horrific way."

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