‘Man killed wealthy pensioner he befriended after she stopped giving him money’

Norma Girolami - Central News/Met Police
Norma Girolami - Central News/Met Police

A “parasitic” benefits claimant who targeted a wealthy older woman after spotting her in the hot tub of their local swimming pool, fleeced her out of £284,000 and then killed her and buried her body, a court has heard.

Serkan Kaygusuz, 42, befriended Norma Girolami, 70, in 2017 and spent the next three years plundering her fortune.

The retiree, who had never been married, was flattered when the former supermarket worker made advances towards her in their local pool.

They began seeing one another but prosecutors allege Mr Kaygusuz began demanding and receiving large sums of money from her.

When the pensioner refused to hand over any more cash in May 2021, Mr Kaygusuz, who is originally from Turkey, allegedly killed her and buried the body in order to steal her house as part of a “cold-blooded plan”.

Kaygusuz was jobless

Ms Girolami, who was of Italian heritage, lived alone in a £900,000 home in Highgate, and was comfortably well off thanks to a property portfolio.

Mr Kaygusuz was jobless and lived with his parents in Islington.

They had initially embarked on a sexual relationship but had later become friends, but the court was told she had been too embarrassed to introduce him to members of her family.

Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward told the Old Bailey: “He wanted her money, she was no longer prepared to part with it, and so in order to get his hands on what he knew or suspected was left of her money and more, he killed her.”

She told the jury the couple had met in 2017 at their local swimming pool and from early 2018 she had begun transferring significant amounts of money to him every few weeks, totalling almost £300,000.

“But in about May 2021, it seems that things changed. The money tap which had flowed so freely for so long was switched off,”  Ms Ledward explained.

The prosecutor went on: “By August, the defendant must have realised that his comfortable parasitic lifestyle was not going to continue, he was simply not going to get any more out of Ms Girolami. At least, not whilst she was alive.”

Kaygusuz buried Girolami's body

The court heard that on August 19, 2021 she had taken a trip to Leigh on Sea, returning to her home later that day. But she was never seen alive again.

Ms Ledward said: “Telephone records suggest that shortly after 8.30pm on August 19 he came to her flat. At some point thereafter, perhaps that very night, he killed her.

“After her death, he concealed her body, ultimately by burying it. The defendant accepts this, and has pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of public justice accordingly.

“The prosecution say that was always his plan - the burying of Norma’s body was part of the cover-up the planned killing had made necessary.”

Mr Kaygusuz is then accused of taking over his victim’s mobile phone and laptop, pretending to her friends and neighbours that she was away on holiday, before “systematically taking what remained of the money in her bank accounts”.

The jury was told he took out two loans of £35,000 and £25,000 in her name following her death.

Ms Girolami was reported missing by friends and family on Sept 20, 2021 and he was arrested on Oct 1.

Jurors were told Mr Kaygusuz admits perverting the course of justice by hiding the body, theft, three counts of fraud and one of transferring criminal property but denies murder.

The trial continues.