Woman executive 'strangled in office by former colleague'

Throttled: Cathy Marlow

Throttled: Cathy Marlow

An executive was throttled with her own scarf by a former colleague when she went in to catch up with work during a weekend, a court heard.

Cathy Marlow, 28, was dumped in a shower cubicle after being murdered by Matthew Fagan, who had returned to the company to steal computers, it is alleged.

Miss Marlow, a finance manager, had gone in on a Saturday as she wanted to get on top of her workload after recently returning from holiday.

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, told a jury at the Old Bailey: 'It was her diligence going to work on that Saturday that cost Cathy Marlow her life.'

Fagan, an American national, had been sacked from Research Now, a market research company in south London, nine months earlier, the court heard.

He admits going into the office and stealing six Dell laptop computers on January 13 last year - the day of the killing. But the married 32-year-old denies murder.

Miss Marlow, who was born in New Zealand, had worked on the third floor at Research Now since summer 2005.

She shared a flat with a friend called Rachel Warren in nearby Vauxhall. The pair left home at around 9am on the day of the murder.

Mr Whittam said: 'Cathy Marlow had recently returned from holiday and had decided to go into work to catch up.

'She popped into a delicatessen and arrived at work at about 9.15am. Shortly after 1.30pm she spoke to Rachel Warren on her mobile phone.

'She said that she had just finished work and they had arranged to meet at Sainsbury's. Cathy Marlow said she'd be leaving right away but Rachel Warren said she'd be slightly delayed.

'Cathy Marlow never met Rachel Warren. She was murdered before she was able to leave.'

Fagan had lived in Britain since 2000 and worked at Research Now as a web production manager from April 2005 to April 2006 when he was dismissed, the jury was told.

Police outside the offices where Cathy Marlow was throttled to death in South London

The offices where Miss Marlow was throttled to death in south London

He had sat on the next set of desks to Miss Marlow and though they were colleagues they were not friends.

In November 2006 he had approached a friend and asked him to sell some laptops for him at £300 each, the court heard.

'He returned to the office of Research Now to commit a burglary,' said Mr Whittam. 'He murdered Cathy Marlow whilst he was in the building trying to carry out that burglary.

'The attack she suffered left blood on the walls and floor of the reception area of the ground floor. She suffered injuries to her head, arms and legs and was throttled with her own scarf," Mr Whittam said.

'She was dragged along the floor and her body dumped in a shower cubicle.

'It was there that friends and colleagues who had been concerned that she failed to meet Rachel Warren found her.

'It was a testament to her character that there was immediate concern for her welfare as soon as she had not arrived outside Sainsbury's.'

Mr Whittam said it was alleged that Fagan, of Bermondsey, south east London, arrived at the office alone and left alone, his rucksack filled with stolen computers.

He is also alleged to have taken Miss Marlow's handbag - which he denies - and discarding it along the way after he left.

CCTV footage showed a man said to be Fagan near the office at around 1pm, wearing jeans, a rugby top and a fleece.

He was allegedly wearing a hat when he left to cover up a head injury he had sustained, Mr Whittam said.

The trial continues.

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