A man claiming to be Brad Pitt’s stunt double has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 24 years for murdering his ex-girlfriend and burying her body in a flower bed.
Kirill Belorusov, 32, ‘calmly and methodically’ throttled French filmmaker Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, with a ligature for four minutes before binding her hands and feet.
He wrapped her body in bin bags and buried it in a shallow grave in the garden of her flat in Kew, southwest London before settling down to watch porn videos.
Belorusov was likened to a ‘Bond villain’ by his own barrister after he admitted he had ‘psychologically waterboarded’ Ms Garcia-Bertaux, who he boasted was his ‘product’.
Belorusov, who lied about being a stuntman in a Hollywood film and falsely claimed he was dying of cancer, sent text messages from Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s phone to her friends in a bid to cover his tracks before fleeing to Estonia.
He denied murder after being arrested in the capital Tallinn under a European arrest warrant and brought back to the UK.
He was found guilty of murdering Ms Garcia-Bertaux on Monday,
Belorusov smiled and nodded at Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s sobbing family members after a jury of seven women and five men found him guilty at the Old Bailey after deliberating for less than two hours.
The judge, Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC, said: “I’m entirely satisfied the defendant is not someone who believes the lies he tells. He just tells them on a scale and magnitude which I have not encountered before.”
He added said Belorusov killed his former girlfriend to avoid exposure “as a complete fraud”.
The judge said Ms Garcia-Bertaux must have discovered his “cruel deception” and he killed her to stop anyone else finding out.
“At last she must have seen you as a complete heartless fraud,” he said.
“Having seen you giving evidence, I’m sure you held yourself in high regard.”
Members of Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s family, including her mother Frederique Bertaux, her brother, Florient Schiano, and her best friend, Beth Penman, who is also engaged to her brother, hugged outside court following the verdict.
Ms Bertaux said in a victim impact statement: “The death of one’s own child goes against nature.
“There is not a moment during the day I don’t think of my Laureline. I can’t touch her, I can’t kiss her any more. I watch videos of her just to hear her voice, hear her laugh, to see how she moves.
“I would give anything to hear her happy moments, sad moments, and to hear her say ‘mum I love you’.
“It’s incredibly hard to begin to describe my sorrow, my heartbreak.”
Estonian Belorusov worked in bars and nightclubs but claimed to have been a stuntman and a casino bodyguard for high rollers.
He said he was in the Hollywood film World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, but the online IMDb film database listing, which included 148 people under the heading “stunts”, does not feature his name.
The court heard he met Ms Garcia-Bertaux in 2009, but the couple split up in 2017, after she complained that he was a “slob” and would “needle her about her weight”.
Belorusov owed her thousands of pounds and made constant excuses to avoid repaying her, even falsely claiming he was dying of cancer.
He travelled to London in March on the pretext of helping his ex-partner move home, after lying about finding her a new flat.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said: “The last few minutes of Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s life must have been truly terrifying as this defendant squeezed the very life out of her, and as she struggled for her final breath, there must have been a moment of terrible clarity when she realised that the man she cared for was a liar, a cheat and a killer.
“Her death was not the work of a panicked moment of anger or the frantic result of a heated row.
“The killing itself was the work of three to four long slow minutes in which he calmly and methodically killed the woman he claimed to have cared for and then went shopping for the items he needed to help him dispose of her body.”
Belorusov was captured on CCTV buying items including an axe and rubble sacks in Homebase to dispose of her body, jurors heard.
He then sent text messages from Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s phone to her friends saying she was planning a “boob job” or “lypo” and expressing her delight at her new fictitious home.
One message said: “I went to see the house it’s BEAUTIFUL! And Kirill gave me another £7,000 so I’m going on a shopping spree… And he transferred another £10,000 a week ago… And he left…Housewarming party is coming real soon…So hot tub and boob lift.”
Belorusov fled to Estonia, while Ms Garcia-Bertaux was reported missing by worried friends after she failed to turn up to work at PR firm Golin, where she was an executive assistant.
She also worked as a producer in the television and film industry and had worked with Dame Joan Collins on the 2018 short film Gerry.
The actress said she was “shocked by the horrifying news” after hearing of her death.
Speaking outside court after the verdict in front of the victim’s family, Scotland Yard’s Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding branded Belorusov a “very odd, strange, dangerous man”.
“The family had to endure nodding and smiling. It just shows what kind of person he is” he said.
“This man is a calculating, deceitful liar, who has tried to portray Laureline as a bad person in his evidence.
“He’s lied about having cancer for years to friends and family, lied about his finances and lied about what happened to Laureline in March this year.
“Her family, stood behind me here, had to endure four weeks of evidence about his lies and the jury and the court saw fit to understand what a liar he was.”