Carl Langdell
Carl Langdell (L) was already serving a suspended sentence when he murdered Katie Locke Hertfordshire Polcie

A man who admitted to strangling a woman he met via online dating before having sex with her corpse has been jailed for life. Carl Langdell, 26, from Cheshunt, pleaded guilty to murdering 23-year-old Katie Locke on their first date after arranging to meet through dating site Plenty of Fish.

Langdell, who had suffered from mental illness for years, was already serving a suspended sentence for making threats to kill a health worker when he strangled Locke at the Theobalds Hotel in Cheshunt on 23 December 2015 after going on a date in London. Her body was found on 24 December dumped in bushes near to the hotel.

Described by police and a "dangerous, evil, manipulative" person, Langdell then proceeded to have sex with Locke's body as well as taking pictures on his phone. During the date, Langdell said he was a lawyer and had his own firm, one of a number of lies he told. After friends and family contacted Langdell when they were concerned that Locke had failed to return from their date, he said she had left in a taxi and he did not know where she was.

Langdell was subsequently arrested on the morning of Christmas Eve in Lee Valley Park, where he had taken his dog for a walk after killing Locke, and was charged with her murder on Christmas Day. Despite already telling police where to locate Locke's body when he was arrested, Langdell repeatedly answered "no comment" during police interviews.

He eventually pleaded guilty to murder in March and has now been sentenced to life with a minimum term of 26 years. Upon sentencing at St Alban's court, Judge Andrew Bright QC told Langdell having sexual intercourse with Locke's dead body "increased the depravity of the murder".

Detective Inspector Fraser Wylie from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit led the investigation and said: "Katie Locke was a much-loved, professional young lady who had her whole life ahead of her.

"Her death has understandably had a hugely devastating impact on her family, friends and everyone who knew her. Losing a loved one in such horrendous circumstances is so cruel, especially given the time of year she was murdered. Our thoughts remain with Katie's family and friends at what continues to be an extremely difficult time.

"I want to be clear that Carl Langdell is a dangerous, evil, manipulative and controlling individual who knew exactly what he was doing that night. He painted a picture of being a decent person, including claiming to be a lawyer which he wasn't, and had refined his ways of dating to lure women into his trap.

"Whilst I am pleased that he has been handed a substantial prison sentence I fully understand that no sentence will be enough to ease the pain and suffering he has caused Katie's family."

In a statement, Locke's family said: "On the 24th of December we were cruelly robbed of a precious daughter, sister, niece, grand-daughter, cousin and auntie. Katie was a beautiful person, both inside and out, completely irreplaceable and for us, as a family, life will never, ever be the same again.

"We will never forget Katie. She was a bright, funny, loving young woman. She was also trusting, caring and always tried to see the best in everyone which, sadly, has been her downfall. Unfortunately there were no signs for Katie to see and as a family we have suffered daylight robbery. For us as a family to realise that any fantasist or predator can lie and publically portray themselves as anything their warped personalities would like is shocking."