A friend of a French film producer who was found buried in a shallow grave in her garden became suspicious after she received “strange” messages from her phone, a court has heard.
Kirill Belorusov, 32, is accused of killing Laureline Garcia-Bertaux at her London home and then sending texts from her mobile to cover his tracks.
Beth Penman told the Old Bailey she became “confused” by the messages about a shopping spree and a “fit” vet.
Mr Belorusov denies murder.
On 5 March, the 34-year-old was found naked, bound, wrapped in bin bags and buried in a flower bed in the back garden of her flat in Kew.
The jury was told Ms Penman became concerned after receiving “confusing” messages from her close friend’s phone days before she was found.
One described Ms Garcia-Bertaux going on a shopping spree in Oxford Street, which Ms Penman said was “completely” surprising because her friend preferred shopping online.
Further texts mentioned how she wanted to be “young and hot again”, while another on 3 March spoke about meeting a “fit” vet.
When asked by prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC whether it was “the kind of thing Laureline might do?”, Ms Penman replied: “No. It seemed far-fetched to me.”
She also told Mr Glasgow that she was alarmed by the messages.
Prosecutors have told the court Mr Belorusov owed the victim thousands of pounds, and he had tricked his way into her home where he strangled her.
The jury has also heard the 32-year-old was captured on CCTV buying an axe, rubble sacks and plastic clogs in Homebase, which he used to dispose of her body.
Following the murder, Mr Belorusov fled to Estonia, his home country, but was brought back to Britain to face trial, prosecutors have said.
The trial continues.
Figures pictured on a cardboard effigy of Grenfell Tower filmed being burned were not meant to represent people who died, a court heard.
Paul Bussetti, 47, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court the images depicted friends who were at a bonfire party on 3 November 2018.
He shared footage of the effigy on WhatsApp and it was added to YouTube.
Mr Bussetti denies sending or causing grossly offensive material to be sent via a public communications network.
The clip of the cardboard building, which had “Grenfell Tower” written on it, was recorded at a party attended by about 30 people in south London.
Prosecutors said the footage is racist in its content, while a relative of one of the 72 people who died in the blaze on 14 June 2017 called it “revolting”.
Mr Bussetti, of South Norwood, told the court the effigy had been created by his friend Steve Bull and was meant as a joke “about us”.
Asked who the characters on the effigy were, he said they were “the majority of people that were at the party” who had all found it “funny”.
One black-clad figure who was referred to as “ninja” was meant to represent his friend’s son who did martial arts, while his own image had been on the other side of the box, the Mr Bussetti said.
The father-of-two said he shared the footage with about 20 people on two WhatsApp groups but he had never intended it to go further.
When prosecutor Philip Scott suggested he sent the footage because it was in keeping with other “highly racist” content he shared, Mr Bussetti replied that it was “just banter” and denied being racist.
He also told the court he had not originally told police that the people in the tower were him and his friends because he was “scared” and “nervous”.
The trial continues.