‘Cold-blooded killer’ locked up for 35 years for murdering woman for her money

A “cold-blooded killer” has been jailed for at least 35 years for murdering a vulnerable older woman, plundering her wealth and hiding her body in a graveyard for 15 months.

Former supermarket worker Serkan Kaygusuz, 42, befriended 70-year-old Norma Girolami at a local swimming pool and took advantage of her generosity to get his hands on £300,000.

When Ms Girolami turned off the “money tap”, he set about killing her, concealing the body and helping himself to her remaining wealth, the Old Bailey was told.

The defendant, who claimed unemployment benefits and lived with his parents in Crouch End, north London, spent her money on a luxury lifestyle well beyond his means.

Norma Girolami court case
Serkan Kaygusuz, 42, was found guilty of murdering Norma Girolami (Met Police/PA)

He had a £20,000 car, designer clothes, a new games console, and visited sex workers.

He also went on a trip to Turkey for cosmetic procedures on his nose and teeth and a hair transplant while hoarding around £120,000 in the bank, police have said.

Kaygusuz declined to give evidence in his trial and was found guilty of murdering Ms Girolami in her Highgate home after a jury deliberated for just 19 minutes.

He had already admitted perverting the course of justice, theft of the victim’s jewellery, draining her bank account and fraudulently applying for £60,000 in loans in her name.

On Wednesday, Judge Philip Katz KC jailed Kaygusuz for life with a minimum term of 35 years.

The judge noted that Ms Girolami was a “kind” and “overly generous” woman.

The defendant’s sexual advance to her in a hot tub at the local baths when they first met was “deliberate and sleazy rather than accidental”, he said.

Judge Katz told the defendant his actions were “utterly selfish” and “motivated by greed”.

He said: “Only you know how Norma Girolami died and you have chosen not to tell anyone.

“This was a premeditated, planned and cruel murder.

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

“In every imaginable way this was a terrible betrayal of trust.”

He added the defendant’s “callous disrespect” for his victim and her loved ones demonstrated a complete absence of remorse.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Girolami’s cousin, Pia Graham, described Kaygusuz as a “cold-blooded killer”.

She said: “You, Serkan, have taken away something beautiful from the world, a unique, benevolent, kind and lovely person.

“You cruelly betrayed her love and trust, took advantage of her generosity and systematically stripped her of everything she had.

“There came a point in 2021 when there was no more giving from Norma.

“You could have walked away with a fortune in the bank; job done. But that wasn’t enough and instead you got greedy and set about your calculated plan to kill her. A plan you successfully carried out.”

Ms Graham described the impact on the family when Ms Girolami “vanished”, saying Kaygusuz’s actions were “dishonest, disgraceful and indefensible”.

She added: “You believed you could make her disappear – how very wrong you were.”

The defendant had a previous conviction in 2016 for voyeurism by taking multiple images of naked women in leisure centre and gym changing rooms.

He also had a conviction for theft and battery of a former girlfriend, then aged 17, who he followed on her way to college and grabbed by the hair.

Norma Girolami court case
CCTV image dated September 21 2021 of Serkan Kaygusuz at a Toolstation store (Met Police/PA)

For those offences, he was handed a community order and was still subject to a sexual harm prevention order at the time of the murder.

Previously the court heard how arrogant and vain Kaygusuz had targeted Ms Girolami in 2017 when they met at swimming baths in Archway, north London.

While their sexual relationship was short-lived, he went on to make increasing demands for cash.

In May 2021, the “parasitic” defendant plotted to take what remained of her assets by killing her after she refused to part with more money, the court was told.

He made a series of “sinister searches” online for garden tools, caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, “deed for property transfer” and “will and testament”.

He 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.

Ms Girolami was last seen on August 19 2021, when she travelled from her north London home, for a day out at Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex.

Following her disappearance, Kaygusuz pretended to her friends that she was alive and well.

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.

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”.

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

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

Giving evidence, 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.”

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn described Kaygusuz as a “vile, predatory” man.

She told the PA news agency: “I think he’s a danger to women – and that was echoed with the judge’s comments.”

The senior officer said his motivation for killing Ms Girolami was “purely greed”, saying: “He could see that perhaps the money was coming to an end and he wouldn’t get any more money from her.

“He lived well beyond his means. He was unemployed. He had two vehicles, one paid for outright by Norma, and he spent his money on things like designer clothes, cosmetic procedures, and also sex workers.”

Ms Blackburn said it was “entirely possible” other people could have been targeted by Kaygusuz and appealed for any woman or man who felt he had taken money from them to come forward.

She thanked the victim’s family, who had remained “composed” throughout, and added: “It took quite a long time to find Norma. I would like to thank my team as well because they worked so hard to look for her, and we found her, and I’m so pleased we could bring her back to her family and be at court to witness her killer being found guilty, and to receive such a substantial sentence.”