A CONMAN serving a life sentence for the murder of a County Durham woman has launched a Court of Appeal bid to clear his name.
Rakesh Bhayani, 42, of Wembley, north London, was convicted in 2013 of the murder of 49-year-old Carole Waugh, at her home in central London.
The body of Miss Waugh, a wealthy former oil company executive, originally from Haswell, County Durham, was found in a garage in New Malden, in August 2012.
She was thought to have been killed with a single stab to the neck at her Marylebone flat, before her killer and others began a lengthy bid to strip her assets.
Her bank accounts were plundered, her home used to obtain a loan and attempts made by others to rent it out.
Bhayani pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice by moving her body.
A jury found him also guilty of her murder, although prosecutors could not be sure who struck the fatal blow.
However, lawyers today told the court that Bhayani’s murder conviction is “unsafe”, due to “deeply-flawed” evidence implicating him in the killing.
“It is submitted that the conviction of Rakesh Bhayani was clearly and unequivocally based upon the evidence of Witness X,” said Orlando Pownall QC.
“Witness X was so flawed a witness that, for understandable reasons, no witness statement had been taken from him by the crown.” Mr Pownall said defence lawyers had only a few days in which to find evidence to challenge Witness X’s account.
The judges reserved their judgment on Bhayani’s appeal until a later date.
If Bhayani’s appeal fails, he will serve a minimum of 27 years behind bars before he can even apply for parole.