Surrey wheelie bin murderer's 'heartless' lies

By Peter Sherlock
BBC News

Image caption, Peter Wallner pretended his wife had died from a brain aneurysm

Murderer Peter Wallner's deceit ran so deep he was able to evoke sympathy from his victim's mother.

Jeanne Oosthuizen said she was so convinced by her son-in-law's web of lies that she felt sorry for him.

Wallner, who killed her daughter Melanie, 30, in 2006 then hid her body in a freezer for three years, played the part of the grieving husband.

"I felt terrible for this man," said Ms Oosthuizen. "He lost his wife, then his father was ill, then his mother died," she told the Old Bailey.

The jury heard how the German chef was able to convince so many people into believing Melanie died of natural causes.

Griddle pan

Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema said: "How it added to their sorrow one can only imagine."

During the trial, Wallner, formerly of Hamilton Avenue, Cobham, said he could not explain what happened.

"It was out of control," he said. "I could not keep one story straight.

Image caption, Wallner filled the urn with wood ashes from his barbecue

"What I did in those weeks and the following years is not only inexcusable but I can't even explain it to myself."

The 34-year-old's lies began immediately after he beat his wife to death with a griddle pan, possibly while she slept.

The jury was told the next evening, while Melanie's body lay somewhere in the house, Wallner had sex with a work colleague on the marital bed.

At some point, he bought a freezer from Argos, hid his wife's body inside and placed it in a garden shed.

He than began what the prosecution described as a "heartless and sustained effort" to stop Melanie's family discovering the truth.

First he called the Oosthuizens in South Africa to break the news of their daughter's death, saying she had collapsed and died, probably from a brain aneurysm.

When Melanie's distraught mother flew to London, Wallner urged her not to visit her daughter's body.

Ms Oosthuizen recalled: "He said 'Please, you must not have a look at Melanie. I've seen her, the whole of her face is black and blue. Try and remember her the way she was'."

Scattered ashes

Later, he flew to Pretoria in South Africa for a memorial service with a blue urn he had filled with wood ashes from his barbecue.

As the ashes were scattered on Melanie's grandfather's farm, the family wept while Wallner stood impassive.

The Old Bailey heard he spoke briefly, saying he did not believe in heaven but had experienced heaven on earth with Melanie.

Friends from the Woodlands Park Hotel in Surrey, where he and Melanie worked, said they found his behaviour odd.

They recalled how Wallner barely mentioned his wife and appeared relaxed.

Darren Bourne, a colleague, said: "He was his normal self, easy-going. I would never have known he had lost his wife."

At a memorial service in the UK, friends told how he made another speech but was unable to shed a tear.

Ms Cheema said guests described Wallner as being "like he was arranging a business meeting" and said he was "cold and emotionless".

Back in South Africa, Ms Oosthuizen said she knew something was not right.

She repeatedly telephoned her son-in-law to ask for her daughter's death certificate but he made excuses.

When the family flew over to retrieve the document in person, he told them he was in Portugal, spending his inheritance.

The Oosthuizens last heard from Wallner on Boxing Day in 2008.

Image caption, Melanie Wallner's body was found in a wheelie bin in June 2009

Wallner's lies were exposed when dustmen refused to empty the wheelie bin outside his former house, saying it was too heavy to lift.

When the house's new owner reported seeing a foot sticking out of the bin, police were called and appealed for Wallner to come forward.

He was arrested on his return from Malta, where he had moved with his new girlfriend.

In his trial at the Old Bailey, Wallner admitted he had acted "like a scumbag".

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, claiming he "lost it" when his wife confronted him about his womanising, and said he had acted in self-defence.

But a jury found him guilty of murder after hearing how he had "spun tale after tale" to conceal his guilt.

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