Jealous Bully Convicted of Murder for Strangling Girlfriend during Holiday Argument

Jorge Garay, aged 46, has been found guilty of murder after strangling his girlfriend, Karla Godoy, 37, during a heated argument about her ex-husband while on vacation. The disturbing incident took place in Lima, Peru, where Garay wrapped Godoy’s body in plastic and buried her in a shallow grave located in his grandmother’s garden.

The tragic discovery of the mother-of-one’s remains was made by local authorities, who identified her through her fingerprints. Garay admitted to killing Ms. Godoy but claimed he acted in self-defense, alleging that she had attempted to attack him with a knife. However, his defense failed to convince the jury, resulting in his conviction in Maidstone Crown Court.

Notably, this trial is believed to be the first brought under Section 72 of the Domestic Abuse Act, allowing British courts to prosecute domestic abuse crimes committed abroad if both individuals involved live in the UK. Garay and Ms. Godoy resided in Dartford, Kent, and had traveled to Peru for their vacation on September 15 of the previous year.

The last contact Ms. Godoy’s family had with her was on September 23, when she confirmed her plans to travel to Spain the following day, which she never did. In a police statement, Garay claimed that the argument stemmed from her ex-partner constantly contacting her about their child, causing her significant distress. He mentioned that she was keeping their relationship secret due to concerns it might affect her ability to see her child residing in Spain. However, it was revealed in court that Ms. Godoy had shared pictures of her and Garay together in Peru on social media, contradicting Garay’s claims.

Garay confessed to strangling Ms. Godoy with a piece of string or elastic, admitting that something inexplicable came over him during the attack. He returned to the UK following the murder but was later arrested in London. During the trial, jurors were shown a WhatsApp voice conversation in which Garay confessed the killing to Ms. Godoy’s brother, urging him to surrender to the police.

Described by her brother as a “really nice person” and a hard worker, Ms. Godoy’s untimely death has left a void in her family’s lives. Garay initially lied to his landlord, stating that Ms. Godoy had stayed in Spain while he returned to the UK alone, and further claimed to have been a victim of theft, losing his money and identification.

Following seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Garay guilty of murder. Sentencing is scheduled for July 28, and family members are expected to witness the proceedings via video link from Spain and Peru.

The case presented numerous challenges, with witnesses traveling from Peru, Spain, and Honduras, Ms. Godoy’s country of origin. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provided the jurisdiction to try the case in the UK, granting the courts the authority to prosecute defendants in domestic violence cases, regardless of the location of the crime. The Crown Prosecution Service highlighted Garay’s attempt to portray the killing as an act of self-defense, but the jury saw through his lies, recognizing his bullying, controlling, and jealous nature.

Detective Inspector Lee Neiles, Senior Investigating Officer from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, expressed his satisfaction with the conviction, acknowledging the complexity of the case involving international cooperation among police forces and prosecuting authorities. He expressed hope that the verdict would provide some measure of justice for Karla Godoy and her grieving family.