A Lewisham man has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, stealing her savings and dumping her body in a suitcase.
Clinton Kennard Bailey, 36, of Malpas Road, in Brockley, ‘deceived’ Filipino care worker Leah Questin, 37, who he met through online listings site Gumtree, and ‘took advantage of her generosity’ before murdering her.
He was found guilty after a two week trial at the Old Bailey and sentenced to life. The judge recommended that he serve a minimum of 30 years for murder; he will serve a concurrent five year sentence for the illegal disposal of Questin’s body.
Questin disappeared in mid-September 2009, some four weeks after meeting Bailey, an IT specialist, with whom she had formed what she hoped was a romantic relationship.
Her ‘badly decomposed’ remains were discovered by police on 24 September, near a dried-up pond in a rural area of Kent. Her body had been placed in a suitcase with two air fresheners. It was impossible to establish the exact cause of her death because of the decomposition of the body.
The court heard that police investigating Questin’s death quickly established a link with Bailey. Between 12 and 21 September, Bailey made ATM withdrawals from her bank account, draining her £3000 savings – some of which he used to buy champagne to entertain another girlfriend.
He also kept and used Questin’s Oyster card and mobile phone, sending messages to her friends and, occasionally, himself, in order to suggest that she was still alive.
A man matching Bailey’s description was found to have purchased the suitcase in which Questin’s body was discovered, at a shop in Elephant and Castle. He was traced by police and arrested at the end of September 2009.
He refused to give evidence, and offered ‘no excuse or explanation’ for his actions.
Detective Chief Inspector Jacqueline Sebire, of the Metropolitan Police Service Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: “Leah died at the hands of Clinton Bailey who, during their short relationship, deceived her and took advantage of her generosity.”
“Following her death, Bailey emptied out Leah’s bank account of the money she had worked incredibly hard to save. He has throughout the investigation lied and denied ever murdering Leah, showing no remorse for his actions. Despite this we have proved otherwise.”
Questin, a care nurse, came to the UK from the Philippines in 2008 to further her education. She used the internet to meet new people and extend her small circle of friends.
Alda Magdalena Questin-Esta, her sister, said: “Leah was an easy person to love, because she was a loving, thoughtful, and caring person. She was conscientious, dedicated and a well-liked member of the staff at Lansdowne Care Home.”
“She loved everyone, had no enemies because she hated no one. She was a woman who could always be trusted and relied upon. She was a wonderful person, daughter, sister, aunt, and a trusted friend.”
“It is ironic, because knowing her true nature and character; she didn’t deserve the grim and tragic circumstances that led to her death. She became the unfortunate victim of a mad and senseless killer.”