Search

Detective fears jailed murderer Robert Ekaireb will never give up secret of wife’s missing body

13:00 09 January 2014

Robert Ekaireb

Robert Ekaireb

Archant

The detective who led a murder probe into a millionaire property developer’s killing of his pregnant wife said he feared her body may never be found as her husband was jailed for life this week.

Lihua Cao, whose body has never been found.Lihua Cao, whose body has never been found.

Robert Ekaireb, 39, was handed a life sentence at the Old Bailey on Tuesday for murdering his Chinese bride Lihua Cao, 27, in their luxury Hampstead apartment in October 2006, just three months into their volatile marriage.

During a painstaking seven-year investigation, police found no activity on Ms Cao’s bank card or mobile, no contact with her family and no trace of her having flown out of the country following her disappearance.

Ekaireb, of Corrigan Close, Hendon, was eventually arrested on June 7, 2012 and charged the following day.

Det Sgt Martin Sloan, who led the murder probe, said: “There’s no closure for the family. They are searching and they’re looking for answers that might never come.

“There’s only one person who knows the answer to all of this and that’s Robert Ekaireb.

“My feeling is, because of what I know about him as a man, that he’ll never tell us because he’ll never admit his guilt.

“But that doesn’t stop us asking and stop us looking and we will at some point in the future go and visit him [in prison] and give him that chance.”

Ekaireb, who denied murder, was convicted last month after a two-month trial at the Old Bailey.

The court heard how he murdered Ms Cao after months of jealousy and paranoia about her past as a lapdancer before having their flat in Pavilion Court on the gated Mount Vernon estate, in Frognal Rise, Hampstead, redecorated and recarpeted the next day.

Ms Cao, who left China in 2002, was 19 weeks pregnant when she disappeared and was finally reported missing by her brother in February 2007.

She had been working as a lapdancer in Dublin, Ireland, when she met Ekaireb in June 2006, marrying him weeks later and moving into his Pavilion Court flat.

The trial heard that he had admitted to his psychologist a month before Ms Cao vanished that he had thought about stabbing her to death and felt unsafe with his own anger.

Police believe Ekaireb murdered Ms Cao on October 23, 2006, following an argument at their flat about Ekaireb’s suspicion that his wife was still working as a lapdancer behind his back.

It is thought he lost control and lashed out, killing Ms Cao - probably with a knife - before rolling up her body in a bedroom carpet and loading it into his car boot to dispose of.

Around the estimated time of the killing, a witness reported hearing a woman’s scream while a security guard at the Mount Vernon estate later saw a carpet being carried out of the couple’s flat.

Officers believe Ekaireb, father to a two-year-old daughter with his current partner, who is expecting another child, used his links to an organised criminal network to dispose of Ms Cao’s body.

Judge Nicholas Cooke QC ordered Ekaireb, owner of more than 50 properties worth £65million, to serve at least 22 years before he could be considered for release.

He cited Ekaireb’s refusal to reveal the whereabouts of Ms Cao’s body as an aggravating factor.

Sentencing the property developer, the judge said: “This was the murder of a pregnant wife, a woman pregnant with a viable foetus when you killed her: in that sense you ended two lives.

“The evidence exposed you as a callous, manipulative and selfish hypocrite.”

Judge Cooke will decide in coming weeks if he is to order Ekaireb to pay compensation to the victim’s family in China, who were receiving regular payments from Ms Cao before her death.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Sunday, May 1, 2016
Owner Saby Thukral at the opening party of her store in Heath Street

Struggling with the challenge of shopping for her fashion-conscious daughters in the area, a Hampstead Garden Suburb mother has opened up a new children’s shop in Hampstead.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
Claire Meir part of a charity raising money for books for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Photo: Nigel Sutton

A mother was inspired to fundraise to buy books for Syrian children in Turkey after imagining what it would be like if her son was fleeing devastating civil war.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
The primary school pupils enjoyed a range of workshops. Photo: Jacqui Sinnatt

Camden and Islington primary school children enjoyed a taste of creativity away from the classroom at the Primary Careers Fair held at the British Library.

Friday, April 29, 2016
Ray Davies is returning to Hornsey Town Hall

Ray Davies performed one of his first gigs at the iconic venue when he was still at school, before going on to form The Kinks

Friday, April 29, 2016
The coffin arrives for the funeral of David Gest arriving at Golders Green Crematorium in north London.

Mourners have remembered music producer and TV star David Gest at a funeral service in Golders Green.

Friday, April 29, 2016
PC Shane Moulds has been dismissed for misconduct

A Camden police constable has been sacked for punching a member of the public he was arresting and hurling abuse at him, calling him a ‘posh twat’

Friday, April 29, 2016
Big Green Bookshop is raising money for Haringey schools.  Joint owner Tim West  pictured. Photo: Nigel Sutton

Two book owners was sickened when an opportunistic thief stole £600, but their customers were “unbelievably” supportive and in a “tsunami of loveliness” helped them raise more than nine times the amount in donations.

Friday, April 29, 2016
Found dead: David Gest (Picture: Ian West/PA Wire)

The funeral of David Gest is set to take place this afternoon at Golders Green crematorium, according to reports.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe