Carole Waugh impersonator sentenced

Carole Waugh was originally from County Durham Photo: ITV News

A woman who impersonated murdered former oil executive Carole Waugh, originally from Durham, to hire a car has been given a community order.

47-year-old Julie Witham, of Enfield, said she did not know Miss Waugh was dead when she was asked to impersonate her to hire a car.

Mr Justice Sweeney ordered Witham to do 140 hours unpaid work during the next 12 months.Witham pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at the Old Bailey last month.

She admitted plotting to hire a Kia car using an American Express credit card in Miss Waugh's name between April and August last year.

The 50-year-old disappeared from her home in Marylebone last spring and her body was found with a single stab wound inside a car in a lock-up garage in south west London on August 2.

Miss Waugh, originally from Durham, was reported missing by her family on May 7 and had not been seen since mid-April.

An attempt had been made to sell her flat and plunder her bank accounts.

The court heard that grandmother Witham had no idea the passport and driving licence she used were from a murder victim.

She was taken to a man at a West End hotel who asked her to practise Miss Waugh's signature before asking her to impersonate her.

A sum of £550 was deducted from the card for the car hire in July, three months after the murder.

Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting, said the card had been applied for and issued in July.

"There is nothing to suggest she knew anything about the that death.

"Her role was one of being one of a number of women recruited to impersonate Carole Waugh."

– Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting

Mark Gately, for Witham, said she had never been in trouble before but was unemployed and had committed the fraud because she was in rent arrears.

She had been paid £100, given lunch money and used the car for a few days.

Witham thought the passport and documents were fake. The photographs did not look like her.

She had been horrified to find they belonged to a woman who had been murdered and had helped police investigating the crime.

Two men have been charged with murder and will be tried later this year.