"What must it have felt like during those last seconds as she was savagely struck down? The sheer terror and confusion. The impact of this cruel and savage attack has changed the lives of so many for ever."
-Alan Beagley, Kate's father
It was the 31st of May 2007. A Thursday. Alan Beagley was worried about his thirty two year old daughter Kate Beagley. He saw her the night before, the 30th of May, at around 6.30pm. She seemed excited when he left her as she was looking forward to a night out. But, the next day, he hadn’t heard from her and when he discovered she had missed appointments and wasn’t at work at all that day, he was deeply concerned.
Kate lived alone in her apartment at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom. She was a very driven young woman and after she graduated with a degree in sports administration, she worked her way up through the ranks at British Gas where she had worked for ten years.She was always in constant touch with friends and family so even though it had been less than 24 hours since she had last been seen, Alan reported her missing to the police because he knew his daughter and believed that something must have happened to her.
Kate’s friends told police that on the night of the 30th of May, Kate had agreed to go on a first date with a man she met a couple of weeks previously. That man was twenty seven year old fitness trainer Karl Taylor.
Kate met Karl at a club when she was out with friends in Central London on the 18th of May. He approached her and was chatty and flirtatious so Kate agreed to give him her number. They sent various text messages to each other in the days that followed and arranged to meet up for a date on the 30th of May. Kate told her friends about it. They had arranged to meet for a drink at the Roebuck bar which overlooked the Thames.
Kate met Karl as planned that night and during their date, she sent several of her friends text messages. But that was the last time anyone heard anything from her. Police spoke to Karl. He initially said that he didn't know where Kate was or what happened to her before claiming that Kate dropped him off in Twickenham after their date. After that, he told police different accounts of what took place that night and answered no comment to some questions. He was arrested on suspicion of kidnap.
Following further questioning by police, Karl ended any hope there was of Kate being found alive. She wasn't missing. She was dead. Karl told police that he stabbed Kate to death as they sat on a bench on Richmond Hill. He confessed to driving her body to a nature reserve in Hertfordshire and leaving it partially hidden near a car park. Karl then led police to where he dumped Kate's body and they found her body in nettles in Oxhey Woods in Hertfordshire.
Karl was charged with murder and despite the admissions he made to police, he entered a plea of not guilty.
It was the Prosecution's case that Karl went on the date with Kate with the intention to murder her so that he could steal her car.
The Court heard that the night of the 30th of May, their date started off as planned. They drove to a beauty spot on Richmond Hill, overlooking the Thames, and bought a drink at the Roebuck bar. They were there for a while and afterwards went outside and sat on a bench. The area is known for the beautiful views and it's not uncommon for people to sit on the bench and admire the views.
The Court heard that when they were inside Roebuck bar, Kate did not appear to be interested in Karl. The Court heard that a woman, Maureen Roncone, was inside the bar that evening and she told police that Kate did not talk much:
"As soon as they sat down, the girl had her head down texting on her mobile phone. There was no conversation, only him talking to her. She continued texting. She was still texting when they left."
It was the Prosecution's case that as soon as they were outside and away from the bar, where there were no witnesses, Karl viciously stabbed Kate to death in a frenzied attack. The Court heard that Karl had taken a scissors and a carving knife with him, he had taken them from a friend's house ,and hid the knife up his sleeve when he was with Kate on the date. The entire time he was with Kate at the bar, the carving knife was hidden up his sleeve.
The Prosecutor, Peter Clarke QC, told the Court that Karl told the police different accounts as to what happened that night but in one of the accounts Karl told them that he stabbed Kate during an argument and said:
"All I want is your car."
He told police:
"She pushed me away. She was grabbing me and I stabbed her in the throat. I constantly and consistently cut her in the neck because she was going for my face."
The Court heard that there were 31 stab wounds to Kate's face and neck.
The Court also heard that after Kate was stabbed to death, Karl put her body in the boot of her own car and drove through London. As he drove through London, he spoke to his girlfriend, Lauren Chan-Lok, on the phone. Lauren did not know where he had been and what had just happened.
The Jury were shown CCTV footage that showed Karl driving Kate's car into a garage at 12.20am on the 31st of May and filling it up with petrol. He can be seen on the CCTV footage talking with other drivers on the forecourt. In both his conversation with Lauren and his interaction at the garage, Karl appeared calm and nonchalant.
CCTV of Karl Taylor at the garage
Karl drove to Oxhey Woods and removed Kate's clothes. He then washed her body using bottles of mineral water that he found in Kate's car to try to remove any trace of DNA. Karl dumped Kate's body in nettles in the woods.
When Karl got home, he showed off Kate's car to friends and family and sold Kate's mobile phone to a friend. He gave friends Marks and Spencer gift vouchers that he found in the glove box inside Kate's car.
The Court heard that police found Kate's car and recovered the knife that was used as a murder weapon. They also found Kate’s clothing and personal property.
It was the Defense's case, despite the different accounts that Karl told police, that he was not responsible for Kate's death. The Court heard that Karl had once again changed his account as to what happened the night of the 30th of May. It was the Defense's case that Kate committed suicide due to her "dark and cold" side.
Karl testified and told the Court that Kate killed herself by prodding her head forward on to his knife. He told the Court that just before that, she told him she was having problems. The Court heard that Karl brought the knife with him that night on the date because he himself felt suicidal. He told the Court that when the knife fell out of his sleeve, Kate picked it up and began prodding herself in the neck.
Karl was cross examined by the Prosecutor and he was asked to describe and show the Jury how Kate stabbed herself 31 times. Karl said that it was "14 times actually. I absolutely refuse to do that. I'm not going to go into the details of how I perceived her doing it." He declined to answer on the basis that he was not in the right emotional state to do so. But the Judge in the case told him that as he was a witness he must answer. Judge Giles Forrester told Karl to show the Jury how Kate died:
"You are not going to boss us around. You are not there to dictate terms. You are there to demonstrate how she came to lose her life.".
The Prosecutor rolled up a piece of paper to make a knife that was six inches long. He again asked Karl to show the Court how Kate had killed herself. Karl gently prodded himself in the neck with the paper knife and told the Court:
"I realized she passed away. I was crying profusely. I lay on the grass and looked at the sky."
The Prosecution told the Court that the fact Karl told the Court that Kate was standing the entire time she was stabbing herself was nonsensical. The Court heard that among the 31 injuries Kate received were blows which severed her carotid artery and her jugular vein. She would not have been in a position to remain standing.
Karl was asked why, as a fitness instructor with martial arts training, he didn't try to help Kate. He told the Court that it was an:
The Jury took just two hours to find him guilty. They did not believe Karl's latest account of what happened that night.
Karl was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 30 years in prison.
In a further act of wickedness, it was reported, that Karl wrote a letter to Kate's father Alan. It read:
"I am the guy that met your daughter on Friday night! I might have took your daughter's life but we all know, some of us more than others, that her heart still beats in the good we all do and her soul lives on with all the good memories of her."
The letter went on to say:
"To be honest my first impression of her was she is a kind but unhappy girl to some respect. Anyway for the short time I met your daughter I began to see she was an angel but in the dark. Even though Katie is not with us she still shines brightly as a star in the night sky. Without any doubt what I did was wrong!!! But ask yourself this? Whose life have I really taken? I don't expect by writing you this I will soften your pain but as birds sing and flowers grow in spring remember Katie and let the love you have and always had for her and always will be like the drum beats in your heart when she first opened her eyes. Whenever you miss her think of a star and I promise you, just like I saw myself she will be shining and that's in your hearts forever."
After Karl was sentenced to life in prison, Alan spoke of his family’s “shattering loss”:
“On Wednesday, the 30th of May 2007, I left my only daughter Kate looking forward to an evening out. She was brutally murdered by the man she went to meet and we never saw her again. Since then our lives have been turned upside down.Kate was a loving, thoughtful daughter, sister and friend, as devoted to us all as we were to her. She was great fun to be with and is missed tremendously by everyone who knew her; she had a gung-ho approach to life and lived it to the full. We cherish, and are grateful for, all the memories of the wonderful times spent together.
The cruel and sudden loss of Kate has had an overwhelming impact on her family and friends and I speak for us all when I say our lives will never be the same again. Our family has been devastated and life seems empty and meaningless without Kate.
The worst episode of our lives has today reached a conclusion within the judicial system, but we now have to piece together our lives around the void left by the shattering loss of Kate, remembering the positive effect she had on all of us.”
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello