Cath Marlow's eyes sparkle, matching her wild, carefree smile.

Her personality almost jumps out of the photo frame. She was always the life of the party and looking for her next adventure.

But her life was cut short on Saturday, January 13, 2007.

The 28-year-old decided to pop in to her London office to catch up on work after a two-week holiday in Egypt and the Middle East.

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However, her work ethic was her downfall as she bumped into former colleague Matthew Fagan.

Fagan, now bankrupt after losing his job from Research Now, had used an old security pass to get into the Stockwell office. He was there to steal laptops and on-sell them for cash.

Instead of admitting he was caught in the act, Fagan hit Cath with a hammer, used her own scarf to strangle her and put her body in a shower cubicle.

Fagan was caught on CCTV making off with a backpack of laptops.

Thousands of kilometres away, a doorbell rang in Napier at 2.28am Monday. The moment Debbie Marlow found out her baby sister had been brutally murdered is etched in her memory.

"It was the police, the poor police coming to tell me, while six months pregnant with my first child, that Cath had died in suspicious circumstances. After they left I went back to bed and tried to close my eyes hoping that when I woke in the morning it would be a bad dream."

Her little sister, the one who used to chase her round the garden with caterpillars, was gone.

Cath, Cathy, or to some Catherine Mouse, the youngest of three, was a kind, gentle soul.

Debbie fondly remembers the time when her younger sister decided she wanted to clean out her fish bowl. As she was doing this over kitchen sink, one of her fish went down the drain. She ran outside and put her fishnet under the drain pipe and asked Debbie to turn the tap on so she could catch the fish as it swam down the drain.

After moving to Hawke's Bay with her parents, Cath went to Taradale High School. She left school and got a job at an accounting firm which prompted her to go to Eastern Institute of Technology to study part-time.

Like many in their 20s, she headed to London to live and was there when the 2005 bombings happened. She rang home to tell everyone she was safe.

"I was cross with being woken up and told her of course she is safe, there is 16 million people in London what were the chances? How wrong was I to be," Debbie said.

Cath Marlow New Zealander living in Southwest London, England murdered in London on 13/01/07.
Cath Marlow New Zealander living in Southwest London, England murdered in London on 13/01/07.

The days after Cath's death were a blur of phone calls, dealing with the police in the United Kingdom and waiting for an arrest.

Fagan, 33, was charged with murder.

The Metropolitan Police in charge of the case came out to pay their respects to the family when Cath's body was returned home.

A sense of numbness and sadness encompassed the Marlow family which was further devastated when mother, Claire, died of breast cancer.

"I know Mum couldn't have lived without Cath," Debbie said.

She, her brother, father Bernie and step-mother attended Fagan's trial at the Old Bailey.

They had to sit through the gruesome details of Cath's violent death.

A DNA sample from underneath Cath's fingernails identified Fagan as the killer.

The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to 26 years in prison with no parole.

Ten years on from Cath's death and Debbie still cannot watch her wedding DVD, such a happy day is tinged with sadness as it was one of her last moments with her sister.

Despite the passing of time, Debbie is certain she would not be able to face a parole hearing today.

She has spent five years supporting families of homicide in New Zealand through the justice system, and said she is trying to make changes so families have an "easier ride".

"Cath has been gone 10 years, her murderer still has 16 years to serve at least. Most families here would be staring down the barrel of parole hearings," she said.

"Our children get to live a relatively normal life, we have the option to keep the details from them until we feel they are old enough ... something not normally afforded to families here."

Cath's family and friends came together yesterday to celebrate her life.

"The memories we have of her and her life, the lives she touched the person she was ... full of life."

Debbie said they also reflected on what she's missed out on. Her nieces and nephews are growing up without knowing their fun-loving, crazy Aunty.

"There are times when the pain rises and takes our breath away and tears fall ... Christmas carols, they are the worst for me but mostly we live our lives grateful for what our experience has taught us, to live life, not to sweat the small stuff and love your children deeply, completely because you never know when you or your time is up."