At the Old Bailey in London, Matthew Fagan has been found guilty of the murder of Cathy Marlow and sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommended minimum of 26 years.
The jury reached the unanimous verdict after only a few hours of deliberation. DNA evidence made possible by a stroke of good fortune appears to have played a major part in the conviction: in November 2005 a police officer took a swab from Fagan when he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly - this was not required procedure at the time for minor offences, but enabled detectives 14 months later to match the DNA profile with material found under Miss Marlow's fingernails and around the crime scene.
Fagan had claimed he went to the Research Now office in South London to steal laptop computers on 13 January 2007, the day of the murder, and that Miss Marlow had recognised him and started shouting. According to his account, he left her still alive with an accomplice, 'John', of whom police have found no evidence. The jury instead believed the prosecution's version: that Fagan beat her over the head with a blunt instrument and strangled her with her scarf before leaving with the laptops.
Evidence suggests that Miss Marlow put up a struggle, but Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, told Fagan: 'Against a man of your size and strength she would have stood no chance.' A report in the Evening Standard newspaper suggests Fagan weighed 23 stone.
Fagan was born in September 1975 and came to London in 2000, marrying a German woman in 2003. He worked at Research Now from April 2005 to April 2006 until he was sacked for incompetence, the court heard. Fagan said he had since been earning cash through work for a removal company but had carried out burglaries on the side.
Members of Miss Marlow's family broke down in tears as the verdict was delivered. Her father Bernie said the verdict would bring 'some closure in seeing that justice has been done' but added 'it won't bring our Cathy back, nor erase for us the horror of her suffering and death at his hands... She lives in our hearts and minds every day.'
All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.