Killer who strangled his girlfriend with a bungee cord on Peru holiday then buried her body at his grandmother’s home is jailed for life after landmark legal case
A killer convicted in a landmark trial of murdering his girlfriend during a holiday in Peru and then burying her body at his grandmother’s house was today jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years.
Jorge Garay, who must serve the tariff before he can apply for parole, was prosecuted under new domestic abuse laws despite the killing of Karla Godoy taking place 6,000 miles away in the South American country.
Jurors were told the 46-year-old murdered Ms Godoy, a mother of one, as she lay face down on the ground by twice wrapping a bungee-type cord around her neck and applying pressure from behind to asphyxiate her.
He then wrapped the 37-year-old’s body in blue plastic sheeting and took her on a four-mile journey to his grandmother’s house in the San Benito district of the Carabayllo province of Lima, where he dug a shallow grave and buried her.
At the start of the 46-year-old Peruvian-Spanish national’s trial, prosecutor Philip Bennetts KC said Garay was jealous because his lover planned to leave Peru to visit her daughter who lived with her father – Ms Godoy’s ex-husband – in Spain.
Jorge Garay, 46 , strangled his girlfriend Karla Godoy , 37, with a bungee cord
Maidstone Crown Court heard how the killer admitted wrapping his girlfriend’s body in a plastic sheet after throttling her during an argument. Ms Godoy, pictured.
But within a few hours of her last phone contact with her aunt on September 23 last year, she was dead.
Having missed her pre-booked flight to Madrid that same day, her worried family reported her disappearance to police.
Garay meanwhile lied to his mother when she asked about his fiancee’s whereabouts, telling her Ms Godoy had ‘boarded the plane and gone on a trip’.
He then flew back to the UK earlier than originally planned and before her body had been found.
Garay was eventually arrested in London on October 15.
Although he later accepted killing his lover, he denied murder.
He did not give evidence at his trial and was found unanimously guilty by the jury after deliberations lasting just over seven hours.
Ms Godoy’s brother Eric Godoy attended the sentencing hearing from Honduras via video link.
In a statement written to the court he said: ‘When I lost my sister, I lost a part of me.’
The trial was the first to be held in the UK under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 which permits courts in England and Wales to try cases whereby offences have been committed overseas but by someone resident in the UK.
Garay then wrapped the 37-year-old’s body in blue plastic sheeting and took her on a four-mile journey to his grandmother’s house, dug a shallow grave, and buried her
Ms Godoy’s worried family reported her disappearance to police after she failed to board a flight to Madrid
Jailing Garay, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson said he was ‘consumed by jealousy’ when he murdered the ‘much-loved’ Ms Godoy.
Rejecting his account he had acted in self-defence, the judge added: ‘You wanted her all for yourself.’
The trial heard police in Peru had spoken to Garay, who lived and worked with Ms Godoy in Dartford, Kent, on October 12 when he admitted killing her but claimed he had acted in self-defence during a row.
By that time he was back in the UK.
That same day he also confessed in a partly-recorded telephone call to Eric Godoy.
‘He said that he [the defendant] had killed her. He said that he had put her body in his grandmother’s house and buried her there,’ Mr Bennetts told the court.
‘He said that he had been jealous because she was returning to Spain because her daughter lives with her father…and that is why they argued.
‘He said she went for him and he punched her in the face and then he said he didn’t remember what happened after that.’
The court heard when the brother asked where Ms Godoy’s body was, Garay said to ‘call police’ as he had told them the grave’s location.
Ms Godoy had been born in Honduras but later obtained Spanish citizenship having moved there in 2006. She came to the UK in December 2020
The recording ended with the sound of him crying.
At the start of his trial, in which witnesses from Peru, Honduras and Valencia gave evidence either in court or via a video link, Mr Bennetts told the jury: ‘There is no dispute that this defendant killed his then partner Karla Godoy.
‘Although it’s not necessary to prove motive, the evidence that you will hear in part suggests that this defendant was a bullying, controlling and jealous man.
‘One of the factors that made him jealous was when Karla was going to see her daughter who lived with her ex-partner.
‘Karla was due to travel on September 23 to see her daughter. She did not make that journey.’
Ms Godoy had been born in Honduras but later obtained Spanish citizenship having moved there in 2006. She came to the UK in December 2020.
Garay was born in Peru but also became a Spanish citizen before coming to the UK in November 2020.
The jury heard the couple had met in 2021 and started living together in April that year. They both worked for Pioneer FM facilities management.
On September 12 last year, they flew out of Stansted Airport to Spain.
Her aunt, Silvia Meza, told the court that during a visit to her home in Valencia, Ms Godoy was upset because her ex-husband had threatened to ‘take away’ their 10-year-old daughter.
Police forensic officers by the makeshift grave where Ms Godoy was buried
Garay, she added, was ‘angry and frustrated’.
Three days later on September 15, the couple left Madrid for Lima where they spent their time visiting Garay’s family as well as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’, Machu Picchu.
His mother Maria told police his visit to Peru was a surprise, and he introduced Ms Godoy to her at the airport as his fiancee.
But she said she did not see Ms Godoy after September 18, and then had a call from her son three or four days later in which he asked for the keys to the San Benito property.
She added that when she met him to hand them over, she asked where Ms Godoy was.
‘He told me that she had already boarded the plane and gone on a trip,’ his mum told police.
In his interview following arrest, Garay claimed he feared for his life when Ms Godoy went for him with a 12in knife.
Describing her as ‘mad and angry’, he said he grabbed her arms, ran and pushed into her with ‘all his weight’, and they fell to the floor.
He then said ‘something crazy’ came over him and he reached for an elastic spring as she kicked him and shouted.
‘I shouted ‘Shut up, shut up.’ I was mad….I can’t remember what happened at this moment, not exactly…I know I was angry and she was trying to kill me.’
Garay, who has no previous convictions, added he then ‘panicked’, covered his lover in a sheet and ‘put her in the garden’.
Edmund Burge KC, defending, said that while Garay accepted he had killed his girlfriend in a ‘spontaneous’ row, he denied he either intended to kill or cause really serious harm as he defended himself.
‘There is nothing to suggest in his past that he had any intention that evening of this holiday would end in the way that it did,’ he told the court.
‘This offence is as horrific to him as it is to Ms Godoy’s family….It was wholly out of character…He is genuinely remorseful for what he has done.’
Mr Burge added that while burying Ms Godoy’s body was an aggravating factor, it was a ‘basic attempt’ with no desecration of her body.The jury heard it takes 15 to 30 seconds for a person to lose consciousness from continuous pressure around the neck. Such pressure has to then be applied for at least a further minute to cause death.
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