Chef gets life for beating wife to death with a griddle pan

A chef was given a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years yesterday for killing his wife with a griddle pan, hiding her body in a freezer for three years, then dumping the corpse in a wheelie bin.

Peter Wallner thought his wife Melanie stood in the way of his womanising, so he battered her with the cast-iron pan as she slept at their home in Surrey in August 2006, the Old Bailey heard. Judge Stephen Kramer told Wallner: "Your acts have rightly been described as despicable and appalling. You doubtless thought the body would be loaded into a dustcart and compacted so that what you had done would never be discovered."

Wallner had tried to persuade family and friends that his wife died from natural causes, even presenting them with an urn full of fake ashes from a barbecue. He placed his wedding ring with "Melanie" inscribed on it into the urn before it was buried on her father's farm.

After the verdict, Mrs Wallner's father Petrus Van Der Merwe 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. That thought eats away at my soul every day of my life."

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