1. ITV Report

Man who murdered ex-partner and put her body in a suitcase sentenced to life in prison

The mother-of-three was killed in August last year. Photo: Family

A man has been sentenced to life in prison and will serve a minimum of 19 years behind bars for the murder of his former partner.

Kostadin Kostov was found guilty of murdering Gergana Prodanova in Exeter last year.

The jury heard how the 42 year old was motivated by jealousy and anger over Gergana's new relationship with fellow Bulgarian Tihomir Todorov.

Kostov was convicted of murder after he killed Gergana, stripped her body, put it in a suitcase and dumped it by the railway line in Exeter.

Kostadin Kostov will serve a minimum of 19 years in prison for murdering his ex-partner. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

In a victim impact statement Gergana's mother said:

Gergana was my hope. I am very ill and I cannot see my grandchildren. I am very concerned about their future. She did not deserve this fate. No-one deserves such a fate.

– Stefka Ilyeva

After sentencing Kostov to nearly two decades in jail, the Judge told the court:

What you did was callous, cold hearted and selfish. Only you can tell us how she died and you have chosen not to. There has been no hint of remorse. The way you have conducted this case merely serves to underline the cruel, dark element of your character.

– Judge Sir John Royce

The judge also praised the dedication of the police team which brought Kostov to justice by studying more than 100 hours of CCTV footage, analysing huge amounts of data, and sifting through hundreds of bin bags in search of vital evidence. A crucial piece of that CCTV evidence was an image that showed Mr Kostov carrying the suitcase containing Gergana's body.

CCTV was shown of Mr Kostov dragging the suitcase through the city. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

The officer who led the inquiry told journalists there was an "overwhelming" amount of evidence against Kostov.

We are delighted with the verdict and sentence in this case. There was a mountain of evidence against Kostov, more than I have ever seen in a murder investigation, yet he somehow believed he could get away with this crime.

This was a heartbreaking case which has deprived a hard working mother of her life and her three children of their mother. Our thoughts are with the family at this very difficult time.

– Detective Inspector Greg Dawe