A caretaker who murdered a young woman, disposed of her body in a bin then tried to smear her name in court has been jailed for life. 

Mark Moodie murdered 24-year-old Maureen Gitau, whose body has never been found, after she disappeared on December 5 last year. 

On Friday (December 1, 2023) Moodie, 55, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years after Maureen’s mum told him “you are a coward”. 

Maureen was last seen by her family at her aunt’s birthday party at their shared home in Deptford where she had been “in a good mood, playing with the children”. 

Maureen left the party to meet Moodie, a friend from work, who took her to a block of flats on Blackheath Hill where he was employed as a caretaker – she never left the building alive. 

“You have never given an account of what happened between the two of you in Richmond House. No one but you knows why you killed her,” Judge Nicholas Lavender said. 
News Shopper: Mark Moodie and Maureen Gitau at Richmond House in Blackheath HillMark Moodie and Maureen Gitau at Richmond House in Blackheath Hill (Image: Met Police)CCTV footage showed Moodie moving a large communal waste bin around the basement of Richmond House. 

He put her body in the waste bin and covered it with sacks of rubbish before putting it out for collection, prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward told the court. 

It was then taken to a processing plant on Landmann Way in Deptford on December 8 where it was “inevitably” incinerated. 

“The destruction of Maureen’s body means that how she died cannot be established,” prosecutor Ms Ledward said. 

News Shopper: Mark Moodie piling rubbish on top of Maureen's bodyMark Moodie piling rubbish on top of Maureen's body (Image: Met Police)Maureen was reported missing on December 10 and officers spent days tracing her movements though phone and CCTV.  

Moodie was spoken to by on the phone by officers on December 14 and he immediately began lying about what happened that night. 

He never admitted her murder and Maureen’s family were forced to endure a painful trial during which Moodie “defamed” his victim’s character. 

Moodie, of Nightingale Place in Woolwich, was found guilty of murder by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court. 

At his sentencing hearing a statement from Maureen’s mum, Jane, addressed Moodie directly. 

“You are a coward and a cold-hearted murderer,” she said. 

“You preyed on a vulnerable and sweet girl who would never hurt anyone. You've never even given us a reason why you took her away from us.” 

News Shopper: Maureen brought joy to her whole family, her mum saidMaureen brought joy to her whole family, her mum said (Image: Met Police)Jane described Maureen as a beautiful and happy woman who brought joy to her whole family. 

She said Maureen had her whole life ahead of her and wanted to become a dental nurse. 

“Such a joyful child, I cannot explain the pain and the hole that has been left in my life,” Jane said. 

“Maureen was my life. I something imagine her walking through the door laughing and telling me about her day.” 

Maureen’s sister, Lucy, said: “Maureen was my sister, my friend, my laughing partner and my prayer partner. She was loved and still is loved.” 

She told Moodie: “You should have been protecting her, she was young enough to be your daughter but you used her.” 

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn, of the Metropolitan Police, said a large-scale search was launched to find Ms Gitau’s body. 

This involved 125 trucks carrying 2,750 tonnes of waste being transported to the police search site in Essex, with 60 officers each day involved in the operation, which totalled 20,000 search hours in total. 

News Shopper: Mark Moodie will spend a minimum of 20 years in prisonMark Moodie will spend a minimum of 20 years in prison (Image: Met Police)Maureen’s mum said their pain was compounded when they found out their daughter’s body had been thrown in the bin and incinerated.  

She said: “We do not have a body to take home to bury. Our right as a family to say goodbye has been taken away.” 

Defending Moodie, Garry Green KC said: “What did occur between Mr Moodie and Maureen Gitau was unplanned and spontaneous.” 

As Judge Lavender sentenced Moodie to life in prison, the defendant proclaimed: “I do not kill her, sir.” 

Detective Chief Inspector Blackburn said: “My thoughts today are with Maureen’s family, who have been cruelly prevented from putting a much loved daughter, sister, niece and cousin to rest.   

“I am glad we have been able to bring to justice the man responsible for her death.   

“Mark Moodie murdered Maureen and then disposed of her body.   

“He has never admitted any responsibility and told lie after lie after lie.   

“He is a contemptible individual and I am glad the jury has seen through his deceit and found him guilty of Maureen’s murder.  

“My team spent many months investigating Maureen’s murder, their professionalism and dedication is just one example of the Met’s determination to bring killers to justice.   

“The CCTV alone was a huge part of the investigation, officers watched approximately 500 hours of CCTV to find out what had happened to Maureen.   

“Once we realised how Moodie had disposed of Maureen’s body, we carried out one of the largest searches of waste the Met has ever seen.   

“We were desperate to find her, for the sake of her family, and it will always be a regret that she was gone by the time we understood what Moodie had done with her body.”