Chef ‘killed wife with kitchen pan then had sex with his girlfriend

A chef murdered his wife with a cast-iron kitchen pan then hid her body in a freezer for three years, the Old Bailey heard today.

The day after the murder, his birthday, Peter Wallner bought his mistress a champagne dinner before having sex in his home where the body still lay, the jury was told.  He told the family of his wife Melanie that she had died suddenly from a burst blood vessel in the brain. He filled an urn full of wood ashes from his barbecue and organised a memorial service where he played the grieving husband, the court heard.

Three years later Wallner left the home in Cobham, Surrey, after taking her body from the freezer and dumping it in a wheelie bin. He asked the neighbours to ensure the bins were emptied but the binmen refused to take the one containing her body because it was too heavy.  It was only when the landlord began clearing the house for new tenants in June last year that she was found.

Wallner, 34, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, claiming he did not intend to do serious harm to his wife.  But Bobbie Cheema, prosecuting, told the jury: “Wallner killed his wife with at least one deliberate blow using a heavy cast-iron pan.

“After the discovery of the body three years later and after he had been arrested, he told police that he had hit his wife during an argument and had done so in self-defence because she had attacked him.” German-born Wallner met his South African wife at a hotel in London where they both worked and after marrying in 2001 they went to work at the Woodland Park hotel, Cobham.

She was deeply in love with him and was described as “bubbly, organised, generous and loyal”. But Wallner was “controlling and unpleasant” to his wife and by the summer of 2006 was tempted by other women.  He became friendly with the hotel wedding planner, Emma Harrison, and told her he was separated from his wife although they still lived together, but slept in separate beds.

On his birthday he took Ms Harrison for dinner at a restaurant in West Byfleet. Ms Cheema said: “He was in good spirits, behaving in a way she described as flash’, ordering champagne. He was very relaxed and chatty, laughing and joking. They had sex on a mattress in the main bedroom of his house.”

The next day Wallner ordered a freezer from Argos and stored it in the garden shed until last year. “At some point he moved his wife’s body from wherever he had stored it in the house and stored it in the freezer,” Ms Cheema said.

He then sent a text to her mother pretending it was from his dead wife. “For the next months and years he spun tale after tale about the circumstances of the sudden death,” the prosecutor added. “It was a heartless and sustained effort to stop them discovering the truth and how it added to their sorrow one can only imagine.”

The affair with Ms Harrison petered out and last May he left Britain with a new girlfriend. The trial continues.

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