Inquest opens into death of teacher, 23, who was killed on blind date

Coroner will rule whether history teacher, 23, strangled to death on first date by vicious killer she met on Plenty of Fish could have been saved if mental health workers had done their job

  • History teacher Katie Locke, 23, was strangled to death by Carl Langdell after the pair met on Plenty of Fish and went on a first date on Christmas Eve in 2015
  • Ms Locke had been unaware of Langdell’s history of violent fantasies and threats
  • Inquest into her death will look at actions by mental health services, probation and police to examine whether they could have prevented Ms Locke’s murder 

An inquest into the death of a history teacher who was killed by a man she met on Plenty of Fish will examine whether systemic failures contributed to the vicious and fatal attack.

Katie Locke, 23, was on a first date with Carl Langdell, from Hertfordshire, when he took her back to a hotel room and strangled her to death on Christmas Eve in 2015.

Langdell, who described himself as a ‘monster’, then had sex with her body and took photos of her corpse on his iPhone in a room at the Theobalds Park Hotel in Hertfordshire.

At St Alban’s Crown Court, Judge Andrew Bright QC jailed the then 26-year-old Langdell, of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, for life, with a minimum term of 26 years. 

In February this year, Langdell was found dead in his high-security cell, having allegedly taken his own life. 

A coroner is set to examine whether the murder of Katie Locke (left) by Carl Langdell (right) on a blind date could have been prevented if mental health services had done their job properly 

‘Katie lived her life to the full and did not want to miss a minute’ 

Today, Katie Locke’s father paid a touching tribute to his daughter who was killed at the hands of a violent man.

Bill Locke, speaking on behalf of his wife and family, told the court: ‘We have three daughters, Katie is much younger than her sisters because she was a happy surprise.

‘Her sisters, Karen and Michelle, loved her and were very protective of her. Katie was born with her eyes open and that is how she lived her whole life, she lived it to the full and did not want to miss a minute.

‘She was always good to her friends and family. She was there for Karen while she had cancer.

‘On the day Karen died, Katie was babysitting her children. She was a lovely member of the family and was loved by so many people.’

The devoted father told stories of how Ms Locke had devoted her time to others since she was a child, even missing playtime at school so she could help other children tie their laces.

Mr Locke revealed that his daughter had been a dedicated history and politics teacher at the Cardinal Pole School in Hackney, London.

She is still honoured by a trophy handed out each year to the pupils.

Concluding this tribute he told the court: ‘My wife has asked me to say that on the day Katie died, she died. 

‘Only a mother can understand the feeling of losing a young one who they brought into the world.’

When Katie, from Essex, met bogus lawyer Langdell through Plenty of Fish she was unaware that he was serving a suspended sentence after telling a Community Psychiatric Nurse that he wanted to cut a girl’s throat, see her naked and have sex with her when she was dead.

At the start of a hearing Hatfield Coroner’s Court today, Assistant Coroner Alison McCormick said the inquest, without a jury, was being held after an application was made by Katie’s parents Bill and Jennifer.

She said she will decide whether ‘acts or omissions’ by public bodies contributed to the death of Katie, the youngest of three daughters who lived with her parents in Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

The coroner said: ‘Most of the evidence will not be about Katie. It will be the interaction of Carl Langdell with mental health services and the criminal justice system.’

But she went on: ‘We should not forget she was an innocent young woman who lost her life because of the actions of Mr Langdell.’ 

Ms McCormick told the packed courtroom that she would hear evidence at the inquest about whether public bodies, including NHS trusts and local police forces, could have stopped Langdell before he killed Ms Locke.

The hearing is expected to last for three weeks and will hear detailed evidence about how Langdell had previously been admitted to a number of psychiatric institutions.

Langdell’s sentencing revealed that before the pair met on Plenty of Fish, he had been telling nurses at a psychiatric facility about his violent fantasies. 

After his arrest, he refused to answer police questions about the murder, however, Langdell finally admitted killing the teacher to his mother.

He confessed he had put her body in a laundry cage and then dumped her body under a bush.

The killer was initially tracked down after Ms Locke’s family used a photo she had sent them to identify him.

Police discovered he had previously been given a suspended prison sentence for threatening to kill his ex-partner’s younger sister and have sex with her body.

 Langdell was jailed for life for the murder of Katie Locke on Christmas Eve in 2015. He took photos of her dead body before having sex with her and then dumping her body in a bush

Prosecutors told the court that Langdell had been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder and had lied on his dating profile, claiming he owned a law firm.

In February this year Langdell, now aged 30, Herts, died in Wakefield Maximum Security Prison, having been found with a serious injury to his throat.

The coroner said before his death Langdell had been contacted about giving evidence to the inquest, but had not responded.

The inquest was adjourned until tomorrow.

The coroner is expected to return her findings of fact and conclusions on Tuesday June 22 or Wednesday June 23.

Katie’s father Bill told the coroner she had ‘lived life to the full’ and ‘was a generous person who cared for other people and put them first.’

Carl Langdell, 30, (pictured) was found in his single-man cell at Wakefield prison in West Yorkshire with serious injuries to his neck

She loved being part of a team, was a Brownie, a Guide and loved water sports, becoming a Kayak instructor.

Katie studied history and politics at Southampton University, had volunteered at the London Olympics and worked with underprivileged children in the US.

‘She was self-confident and fearless and an energetic and beautiful person,’ he said. His wife said she ‘died’ on the day Katie died.

At the time of her death she was working as a history teacher at Cardinal Pole School in Hackney, east London.

She is still honoured by a trophy handed out each year to the pupils. 

Concluding his tribute he told the court: ‘My wife has asked me to say that on the day Katie died, she died.

‘Only a mother can understand the feeling of losing a young one who they brought into the world.’

The inquest continues.    

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