A caretaker has been convicted of the murder of a 24-year-old woman, before placing her body in a bin which was believed to have been incinerated at a rubbish processing plant.
Mark Moodie, 55, of Woolwich, south-east London, was found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court of the murder of Maureen Gitau, whose body has not been found after she disappeared on December 5 last year.
She was last seen by her family as she left her aunt’s birthday party at the address where they both lived in Deptford, south-east London, and her family reported her missing five days later.
The trial heard that Ms Gitau left the party, where she was said to have been “in a good mood, playing with the children”, to meet Moodie.
The court was told that he took her to a block of flats where he worked and she never left the building alive.
Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward said Moodie was seen moving a large communal waste bin around the basement of Richmond House in Deptford, and it was later seen outside the cleaners’ room by some of the block’s residents.
He then put it back in the bin store and covered her body up with rubbish before it was taken to a processing plant where it was “inevitably” incinerated, the prosecutor said.
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn, of the Metropolitan Police, said a large-scale search was launched to find Ms Gitau’s body.
This involved 125 trucks carrying 2,750 tonnes of waste being transported to the police search site in Essex, with 60 officers each day involved in the operation, which totalled 20,000 search hours in total.
Ms Blackburn said: “My thoughts today are with Maureen’s family, who have been cruelly prevented from putting a much loved daughter, sister, niece and cousin to rest.
“I am glad we have been able to bring to justice the man responsible for her death.
“Mark Moodie murdered Maureen and then disposed of her body.
“He has never admitted any responsibility and told lie after lie after lie.
“He is a contemptible individual and I am glad the jury has seen through his deceit and found him guilty of Maureen’s murder.
“My team spent many months investigating Maureen’s murder, their professionalism and dedication is just one example of the Met’s determination to bring killers to justice.
“The CCTV alone was a huge part of the investigation, officers watched approximately 500 hours of CCTV to find out what had happened to Maureen.
“Once we realised how Moodie had disposed of Maureen’s body, we carried out one of the largest searches of waste the Met has ever seen.
“We were desperate to find her, for the sake of her family, and it will always be a regret that she was gone by the time we understood what Moodie had done with her body.”
Moodie will be sentenced on a date to be set.