Hampstead property developer Robert Ekaireb killed pregnant wife Li Hua Cao and then visited nightclub, court hears

Li Hau Cao vanished in 2006

Li Hau Cao vanished in 2006 - Credit: Archant

A wealthy property developer killed his pregnant wife seven years ago and disposed of her body without a trace, a trial heard this week.

Robert Ekaireb

Robert Ekaireb - Credit: CENTRAL NEWS

Robert Ekaireb, 38, allegedly murdered former lapdancer Li Hua Cao, 27, after their relationship crumbled because of his jealousy and obsessive-compulsive personality.

He then spent the night at a nightclub in London’s West End before arranging for their luxury flat in Hampstead to be redecorated and re-carpeted, it was claimed at the Old Bailey.

Ekaireb claims his wife had packed her bags and left him for a better life – but she has not been seen alive since October 23, 2006.

The couple, who lived in a luxury apartment in Frognal Rise, started a whirlwind romance after meeting at a lapdancing club in Ireland in late 2005 and married on 4 October 2006. By then Ms Cao, who was born in China, was already pregnant.

Ekaireb had been so paranoid about his wife cheating on him that he tried to hire a private investigator and set up a lie detector test, the court heard.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told jurors: “He would have paranoid and jealous thoughts about Li Hua and her past as a lapdancer.”

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Ms Cao repeatedly attempted to leave Ekaireb, the last time two months before her death.

Ekaireb assaulted Ms Cao in public two months before she disappeared on the way home from a restaurant, the court heard.

A passer-by called police and officers found Ms Cao in East Finchley Food and Wine with cuts and grazes to both arms.

She claimed that Ekaireb pushed her to the ground after they rowed about her past and him smoking in the car while she was pregnant.

Ms Cao was 22 weeks pregnant when she “simply vanished”, jurors were told.

“She disappeared from the home she shared with the defendant never to be seen or heard from again by anyone,” said Mr Altman.

“The prosecution say that is because she is dead and has been from that day, killed by this man.”

Ekaireb allegedly arrived back at Pavilion Court at 11.07pm the days he disappeared and at 11.44pm he rang his parents’ home.

He then visited the Club Tantra nightclub in the early hours, the court heard.

Ekaireb, of Corrigan Close, Hendon, was later “less than frank” about re-carpeting and other work he undertook at the matrimonial home, jurors were told.

He also made no attempts to track down his wife or report her disappearance to police, the court heard.

Mr Altman said: “The prosecution say that the evidence presents a picture of a man who had become totally obsessed by Li Hua, after first meeting her, and thereafter he sought to control her.

“Marriage was the ultimate control. She was attracted to his wealth and he was attracted to her. But he was exercised by her past, in particular the fact she had been a lapdancer, and he would bring it up as a topic for discussion and argument.

“Iin seeking to control her he made her unhappy and it is this and their volatile relationship that ended in her murder.”

Ekaireb denies murder. The trial continues.