Wealthy London pensioner ‘murdered in cold-blooded plot to steal her fortune’

Norma Girolami went missing in August 2021 (Met Police/PA) (PA Media)
Norma Girolami went missing in August 2021 (Met Police/PA) (PA Media)

A wealthy pensioner was murdered in her Highgate home in a “cold-blooded” plot by her former boyfriend to steal her fortune, the Old Bailey heard.

Norma Girolami, 70, disappeared in mid-August 2021 and her remains were discovered buried in a north London churchyard more than a year later.

Serkan Kaygusuz, 42, is accused of killing the pensioner, in a plan to drain her money and start a new life in Canada, jurors heard.

Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward said police uncovered a “roaring torrent of money” from Mrs Girolami’s bank accounts to Kaygusuz, including £300,000 handed over while she was still alive and the rest of her savings once she had been killed.

Mrs Girolami had lived in her later years on the proceeds of the sale of a £1.9m home in Highgate, and was due to inherit more property from her late father’s estate.

“On the late afternoon of August 19, 2021, Norma Girolami, a 70-year-old lady, returned to her home after a day at the seaside”, said Ms Ledward. “She was never seen alive or heard from again.

“The prosecution case is that the defendant, Serkan Kaygusuz, murdered her, concealed her body, ultimately by burying it, and then set about getting as much money out of her as he could - all part of a cold-blooded plan formed before before Norma’s disappearance, and carried out systematically and with calm and deadly purpose thereafter, for the basest of motives – 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.”

The court heard Mrs Girolami, who lived alone and never married, met Kaygusuz, an unemployed electrician, in a swimming pool in 2017.

She began voluntarily transferring large sums of money to him, but in May 2021 “the money tap which had flowed so freely for so long was switched off”, said the prosecutor.

“For a time, the defendant kept asking for money but Ms Girolami stood firm and kept putting him off.

“By August, the defendant must have realised 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 while she was alive.”

It is said Kaygusuz was the last person to see Mrs Girolami alive, when he attended her two-bedroom home in Cholmeley Park, Highgate, at around 8.30pm on August 19, shortly after she returned from a daytrip to Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Ms Ledward said, after the alleged murder, Kaygusuz “took over her mobile telephone and laptop: pretending to her friends and neighbours that she was alive and well, away or on holiday, that they should not worry about her, and attending to things like cancelling appointments and making sure her cleaner did not come to her flat.”

She told jurors he had “picked his target with care”, knowing she was a well-off older woman who had never introduced him to her friends and family.

“She may have seemed to the defendant like a lonely old lady who would not be missed, or at least not missed quickly, giving him the time he needed to carry out his scheme”, said the prosecutor.

But she said the tenacity of Mrs Girolami’s cousin and friends ensured that her disappearance was not ignored.

“They were simply not prepared to accept that she had suddenly cut herself off from everyone and everything she knew”, said Ms Ledward.

“They persisted with their efforts with the police, who at least to begin with, took some persuading that Norma wasn’t simply on holiday – in part because of the contact that appeared to be coming from her phone.”

Kaygusuz, who lived with his parents in Archway, has admitted perverting the course of justice over the burial of the body, stealing money from Mrs Girolami’s savings, and fraud by taking out loans in her name.

But he denies the charge of murder.

The trial continues.