French film-maker found in shallow grave was strangled


A film-maker whose body was discovered in a shallow grave in her garden had been strangled, a postmortem examination has found. The body of 34-year-old Laureline Garcia-Bertaux was found buried in Kew, a district of Richmond upon Thames, south-west London, after she was reported missing from work.

Scotland Yard said that the postmortem performed on Saturday gave a cause of death as “consistent with compression of the neck”. Toxicology tests are pending.

Police urged anyone who saw or communicated with the French national between 2 March and Wednesday, when her body was found, to get in touch.

Det Ch Insp Simon Harding, who leads the murder squad, said: “This may have been via phone calls, texts messages, WhatsApp or via any other social media platform. Laureline was known to local people as she walked her two dogs each day.”

Detectives are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry and a crime scene remains in place.

One of Garcia-Bertaux’s friends, 27-year-old Daniel Hughes, said she had been due to meet with a “charismatic” vet for a coffee on March 3. She was reported missing after failing to turn up for work at public relations company Golin.

Originally from Aix-en-Provence, the 34-year-old had worked with Dame Joan Collins on the 2018 short film Gerry. The actress said she was “shocked by the horrifying news” of her death.

Hester Ruoff, a producer, actor and friend of Garcia-Bertaux, described her as “an amazing individual” and said they had been due to start filming on a new film next month.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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