Surrey

Husband jailed over Surrey wheelie bin body murder

An unemployed chef from Surrey has been jailed for life for murdering his wife with a griddle pan and then hiding her body in a freezer for three years.

Peter Wallner, formerly of Hamilton Avenue, Cobham, was convicted at the Old Bailey of killing Melanie Wallner.

He admitted hitting her three times in the face but denied murder. The 30-year-old's body was found dumped in a wheelie bin outside their home in 2009.

Wallner, 34, was told he would serve a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Wallner placed the body in a freezer in the garden shed and dumped it in the wheelie bin when he left the country with new girlfriend Lilia Fenech, the jury was told.

But dustmen refused to take the bin from in front of the house because it was too heavy.

The landlord saw an ankle when he looked inside.

The court heard that the couple had met at a hotel where they were working in 2001 and married soon afterwards.

But by the time they moved to Hamilton Avenue in 2005, the marriage was breaking down.

A week after his wife's murder, Wallner told family and friends his wife had collapsed and died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

When Melanie's mother, Jeanne Oosthuizen, visited the UK from South Africa shortly afterwards, her son-in-law urged her not to see the body, as it was "black and blue".

Later, he held a memorial service to commemorate her, and put ashes from a barbecue into an urn claiming she had been cremated.

Wallner had tried to convince the jury of seven men and five women that it was manslaughter.

He claimed he had "lost the plot" after Mrs Wallner hit him with a rolling pin and confronted him about his womanising.

Image caption Melanie Wallner's body was dumped in a freezer

But the prosecution said he killed Mrs Wallner as she slept with a mask over her eyes.

The following night he had sex on the mattress on which she died with a work colleague from the Woodlands Park Hotel in Surrey.

Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema told the jury: "At the core of this case is the brutality and ruthlessness of this killing.

"This was a senseless killing motivated by the greed of this man to make way for a different woman in his life."

Miss Cheema said Wallner saw himself as "someone who can explain himself out of just about anything".

She said: "He simply ignores the flawed nature of his personality motivated by his wandering eye."

Mrs Wallner's father, Petrus Van Der Merwe, said Wallner treated his daughter's body like "rubbish".

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

In a statement to the court, he said: "It haunts me every day to think that, while I was staying in Melanie's house after her 'supposed passing', she was right there in a freezer outside the house.

"That thought eats away at my soul every day of my life."

In a statement on behalf of her family, Ms Oosthuizen said: "Many lies have been told to us during this time and we have had to deal with a lot of treachery and deceit.

"While the discovery of Mel's body has been of huge public interest over the past year, we need to now try and pick up the threads of our lives and carry on.

"For us, however, the pain is and always will be there."

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