Arrogant fraudster convicted of murdering older woman to plunder her wealth

A “parasitic” fraudster has been found guilty of killing a vulnerable older woman and hiding her body in a graveyard in a plot to plunder her money.

Serkan Kaygusuz, 42, conned and cajoled 70-year-old Norma Girolami out of her wealth after flirting with her in the hot tub of swimming baths in Archway, north London, in 2017.

While their sexual relationship was short-lived, he went on to make increasing demands for cash totalling some £300,000.

Norma Girolami court case
Serkan Kaygusuz, 42, was described as vain and arrogant (Met Police/PA)

It is understood the defendant, who claimed unemployment benefits and lived with his parents, spent the money on a luxury lifestyle well beyond his means.

He had a £20,000 car, bought designer clothes, a new games console and went on a trip to Turkey for a hair transplant while hoarding around £120,000 in the bank.

When Ms Giromali turned off the “money tap” in May 2021, he plotted to take what remained of her assets by killing her, the Old Bailey was told.

At the time she began resisting jobless Kaygusuz’s demands, Ms Girolami had been affected by the death of her father and her funds were rapidly dwindling, jurors heard.

Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward said: “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.”

Before carrying out the murder, the defendant made a series of “sinister searches” online for garden tools, caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, “deed for property transfer” and “will and testament”.

Norma Girolami court case
A soft ball full mesh mouth plug with adjustable belt bought on Serkan Kaygusuz’s Amazon account (Met Police/PA)

He also bought rope, a “soft ball full mesh mouth plug with adjustable belt” which can be used to restrain a person, handcuffs, gloves, plastic overalls, tape and a spading fork tool on Amazon.

Ms Ledward told jurors: “They can only have had one purpose when acquired by the defendant – to restrain and kill Norma Girolami, to conceal her remains by burying them, and ensuring the defendant did not get dirty and acquire any forensic traces in the process.”

On August 19 2021, Ms Girolami travelled from her home in Highgate, north London, for a day out at Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex.

Upon her return, the defendant went to her flat and killed her.

Following her disappearance, Kaygusuz pretended to her friends that she was alive and well while systematically draining her bank accounts and applying for loans of £60,000 in her name.

Some 15 months after she went missing, Ms Girolami’s remains were found hidden “in plain sight” in a grave in St James’s Churchyard in Barnet.

Norma Girolami court case
St James’ Churchyard in Barnet, north London, where the body of Norma Girolami was discovered (Met Police/PA)

A post-mortem examination found she had suffered blunt force injuries to the chest, rib fractures and bruising consistent with “third party assault” although the cause of death was “unascertained”.

Giving evidence in the trial, Ms Giromali’s close friend Linda Crystallis described her as a gregarious, fun-loving, and kind but overly generous woman, who had suffered in abusive relationships in the past.

She told jurors: “Serkan had taken six-figure sums from her and I asked her if she could stop giving him money and she said that she could not.

“I asked her if she was afraid of him and she said yes because he wanted that money and she was frightened if she said no. I imagined she was frightened of him being violent.”

As the net closed on Kaygusuz, he changed his name to Sean Kaya and began looking to go to Canada for a new life.

Norma Girolami court case
Norma Girolami wearing some of the jewellery which was stolen after her death (Met Police/PA)

The defendant, who declined to give evidence, admitted taking her money and items of jewellery which were recovered from his girlfriend’s home.

He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by concealing and burying her body but denied murder.

His lawyer queried whether Ms Girolami could have died of natural causes and her fractured ribs have been caused by an attempt to carry out chest compressions.

A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for less than half an hour before finding divorcee Kaygusuz, of Crouch End, north London, guilty of her murder.

The jury was not told the defendant – described by police as vain, greedy and arrogant – had a previous conviction of voyeurism for taking photographs of women at a swimming pool.

Kaygusuz gave no reaction as the jury delivered its guilty verdict.

He was remanded in custody to be sentenced on Wednesday.

The former supermarket worker will also be sentenced for perverting the course of justice; three charges of fraud relating to bank loans totalling £60,000 in Ms Girolami’s name and cash withdrawals; and transferring criminal property, which he had admitted.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn, from Scotland Yard, said: “The items in Kayusuz’s online purchase history were basically a body disposal kit. Despite not having found a body, we were certain that he had killed Norma and buried her in a graveyard or a communal space.

“Our search for Norma’s remains lasted 15 months. We painstakingly examined forensics, CCTV and digital evidence from mobile phones and vehicles and my team recovered stored images from the defendant’s phone that showed the area around St James Churchyard. That was the final piece of the jigsaw that led us to Norma.”