A man has been jailed for murdering a woman and stealing her money to save himself from a substantial amount of debt.
Armen Aristakesyan, 43, from Uxbridge Road, befriended the victim, Serafima Meshaka, 58, over a number of years in order to gain her trust, before hitting her over the head her at her home in Haven Court Green, Ealing and taking her cash.
Aristakesyan was known to be in deep financial difficulties and owed approximately £120,000 to illegal loan sharks including a man called “The Turk”, according to a recorded phone call.
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He was sentenced to life with a minimum of 30 years imprisonment on Wednesday (13 October).
The court heard that Serafima was found dead lying face down in the bathroom of her third-floor apartment on 18 September 2019, with the cause of death indicating severe and multiple blunt trauma to the head.
Serafima Meshaka kept a quantity of money at her home address due to paying for extensive building work via cash.
It was suggested by the prosecution that Aristakesyan knew she kept this money at home and planned to steal it from her to fix his financial difficulties, after growing increasingly desperate when his payment deadline was approaching.
The day before she was found dead, Aristakesyan was seen on CCTV arriving at Meshaka’s flat at 8.25pm.
He had also attended earlier that evening at approximately 5.40pm in what the prosecution say was a failed attempt to carry out his crime because the building workers had still been present.
During his second visit, he was seen to be in possession of a small man bag on arrival, however, when he left at 9.21pm he was pictured carrying a bigger “bag for life” type carrier bag. Police believe it contained the stolen cash and murder weapon.
Aristakesyan previously accepted that he had visited Serafima that night but told police that he had left her alive. He claimed the bag he is seen carrying on CCTV contained items Ms Meshaka had given him to take to a charity shop.
A victim impact statement from Serafima’s former husband said : “Nothing will bring my wife back, no sentence this man can get for this horrific crime would ever be enough. She was a wonderful person who will forever be greatly missed.”
The court heard that Aristakesyan’s brother was also involved. The killer rang his sibling whilst inside the victim’s home.
In one such call which was recorded and played in evidence to the court he can be heard saying: “Come, there is much”.
Arisakesyan’s brother facilitated his departure from the house and his transport to Victoria where he handed over the stolen cash.
Arisakesyan’s brother was originally arrested and charged with assisting an offender however the case against him was later discontinued by the CPS.
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “Serafima was going about her life as normal on the evening she died.
“She had run some small errands and prepared herself a dinner when Aristakesyan called at her address for the second time that day. Having known him for around three years she had no reason to suspect that she was in danger.
“However in the brief course of his visit, he succeeded in his calculated pre-planned course of events to steal a substantial amount of cash from her in order to bail himself out of his financial worries.
“Serafima was no threat at all to Aristakesyan but he betrayed her confidence and attacked her in her own home, her safe space, in the most cowardly way. Her family remain devastated and are still coming to terms with her untimely loss.”
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