Life-swap man `said he was related to footballer'

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The Independent Online
A CANADIAN businessman accused of murdering a Briton and taking his identity claimed that footballer David Platt was his cousin, a court heard yesterday.

Albert Walker, 52, even boasted he was the former England captain's business manager while living under the name of his alleged victim, Ronald Platt, Exeter Crown Court was told.

At the time he made the claim, Mr Walker was living in Woodham Water, Essex, where he ran a therapy business.

The court heard that Mr Walker, who denies murder, claimed he handled investments for the footballer when calls arrived at his office for someone called David.

The body of his alleged victim, Ronald Platt, was hauled up in fishing nets by a Devon trawler on 28 July 1996. It was identified by his Rolex watch. The prosecution has claimed that Mr Walker fled to Britain in 1990 from financial and marital problems in Canada, and later befriended Ronald Platt a television repair man, in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

He subsequently paid for Mr Platt and his girlfriend to start a new life in Canada - and assumed Mr Platt's identity in Britain. The prosecution has alleged that Mr Platt was murdered after returning from Canada to Britain in 1995.

Mr Walker, the prosecution alleges, murdered him by throwing Ron Platt's anchor-weighted body from his yacht, the Lady Jane, off the South Devon coast on 20 July 1996.

Yesterday, the therapist Isobel Rogers, who worked for the Solutions in Therapy business run by "Ron Platt" in Essex, told the court how Mr Walker told her of his background.

He told her he had lived in Vermont, in the United States, and in Liverpool, had been a banker in the US and Europe. Mrs Rogers said that Mr Walker told her he had seven children in New York and Canada, and had a brother and a cousin, both called David. "He made out David Platt the footballer was his cousin," Mrs Rogers said.

On 21 July 1996, he telephoned her saying he had had a "bad accident" on his boat, she said. "He said he fell and had hurt his head and chest, and had hurt himself pulling heavy things off the boat."

Audrey Mossman said she lived close to the house in Woodham Walter where in the autumn of 1994 a couple who introduced themselves as Ron and Noel Platt moved in. The court has been told that "Noel" was the name assumed by Walker's daughter Sheena, who was 15 when she left Canada with him in 1990.

Mr Walker and his daughter were posing as man and wife when they moved to Essex from Tiverton, Devon, the Crown has told the jury.

Frank Johnson, a retired businessman from Woodham Walter, said in a statement that he became friendly with the man he knew as Ron Platt, who said he had been an international banker.

Mr Johnson said he decided to offer "Ron" a proposition, and lent him pounds 200,000 at zero interest in April 1995, to invest for three years. "Platt" later gave him cheques for pounds 25,000 and pounds 5,000, money he said was from the investment.

The trial continues today.

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