Laureline Garcia-Bertaux

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Met Police

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Laureline Garcia-Bertaux was found buried in a shallow grave in her garden

A friend of a French film producer who was found buried in a shallow grave in her garden became suspicious after she received “strange” messages from her phone, a court has heard.

Kirill Belorusov, 32, is accused of killing Laureline Garcia-Bertaux at her London home and then sending texts from her mobile to cover his tracks.

Beth Penman told the Old Bailey she became “confused” by the messages about a shopping spree and a “fit” vet.

Mr Belorusov denies murder.

On 5 March, the 34-year-old was found naked, bound, wrapped in bin bags and buried in a flower bed in the back garden of her flat in Kew.

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PA Media

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The jury was shown CCTV of Kirill Belorusov at Luton airport where he caught a flight to Estonia

The jury was told Ms Penman became concerned after receiving “confusing” messages from her close friend’s phone days before she was found.

One described Ms Garcia-Bertaux going on a shopping spree in Oxford Street, which Ms Penman said was “completely” surprising because her friend preferred shopping online.

Further texts mentioned how she wanted to be “young and hot again”, while another on 3 March spoke about meeting a “fit” vet.

When asked by prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC whether it was “the kind of thing Laureline might do?”, Ms Penman replied: “No. It seemed far-fetched to me.”

She also told Mr Glasgow that she was alarmed by the messages.

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Met Police/PA Media

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The court heard Mr Belorusov bought supplies in Homebase before the killing

Prosecutors have told the court Mr Belorusov owed the victim thousands of pounds, and he had tricked his way into her home where he strangled her.

The jury has also heard the 32-year-old was captured on CCTV buying an axe, rubble sacks and plastic clogs in Homebase, which he used to dispose of her body.

Following the murder, Mr Belorusov fled to Estonia, his home country, but was brought back to Britain to face trial, prosecutors have said.

The trial continues.

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