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THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE; Life for murdering pal whose identity he stole; Lived with daughter as couple and fiddled $10m.

FUGITIVE financier Albert Walker was jailed for life yesterday for murdering the Rolex watch man whose identity he stole.

The 52-year-old crook killed innocent dupe Ronald Platt and dumped his body at sea after Platt discovered he was using his name.

Last night he was branded a "devil" and "evil conman." And as he started his sentence, the full astonishing story of his crimes and double life emerged for the first time. It was revealed Walker:

WAS Interpol's fourth most wanted man after fleecing investors in Canada of up to 10million dollars. Some victims had nervous breakdowns. One hanged himself.

LIVED as Mr and Mrs Platt with his 15-year-old daughter Sheena, during which time she gave birth to two baby girls. Sheena was not known to have any friends. The couple were described as inseparable.

When Walker was arrested after six years on the run, Sheena was caught shoving 20lbs of gold bars worth pounds 60,000, and thousands of pounds, into her children's bags.

THREATENED to "blow away" his real wife Barbara before fleeing Canada.

CRUELLY conned an elderly neighbour in Britain out of pounds 200,000.

Yesterday Platt's ex-girlfriend, Elaine Boyes, punched the air in triumph after Walker was sentenced and declared: "Thank God! Break out the champagne. That man is so evil. If I hadn't been so open with him the first day I met him, Ron would be alive today."

Walker nearly got away with the perfect murder when he attacked 51-year-old Platt on a yacht off Teignmouth, South Devon, weighed his body with a 10lb anchor and callously hurled him overboard.

The corpse was trawled up by chance eight days later. It was only identified by an expensive Rolex watch on Platt's wrist.

Walker had claimed to be "like a brother" to his victim. "I'm a thief, not a killer," he protested. But after an 11-day trial at Exeter Crown Court it took a jury only two hours to convict him of murder.

He showed no emotion as Mr Justice Neil Butterfield called him a ruthless killer who had plotted his crime with "chilling efficiency".

The judge said: "This was a pre-meditated killing designed to eliminate a man you had used for your own ends and found to be, first, an inconvenience, then a threat to your freedom. He became not merely expendable but a danger to you, and he had to die."

Walker - who faces extradition to Canada at the end of his sentence - was born in Paris, in the province of Ontario, on August 9, 1945.

He portrayed himself as a devout Sunday school teacher, church elder, loving family man and financial wizard, and boasted he studied at Oxford University. It was a sham. Instead he was a former herdsman and labourer who reckoned to make his fortune with a cunning mind and a glib tongue.

With urbane charm he swept wife Barbara off her feet, proposed within three weeks and wed her in 1968. They had four children.

But Walker was no loyal husband. After one affair too many Barbara told him to move out in June 1990 and claimed custody of the children. She later swore he once threatened to "blow me away".

Love cheat Walker was also cheating at work. He made a name for himself as a money adviser setting up Walker Financial Services, promising investors a huge fortune.

Instead, he siphoned their cash into his own accounts.

Some of his victims were ruined. One committed suicide. Another has threatened to kill him if he ever sees him again.

Walker was eventually accused of 18 charges of theft and fraud involving 3.2million dollars. But before trial he fled Canada with Sheena in December 1990, taking with him three million dollars.

Sheena said in court she was happy to go with her father as things were bad at home. When Barbara found her daughter had vanished she called her husband "the Devil".

The pair flew to London where they stayed for a month. They then travelled to Geneva where Walker laundered cash and opened secret accounts.

Four months later Walker and Sheena were living in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Walker used the name David Davis, "borrowed" from one of his Canadian victims. In Harrogate the conman got up to his old tricks by launching a financial company called the Cavendish Corporation.

After meeting Elaine, who worked in an antique shop, he duped her into believing he was an ex-banker worth millions. She fell for his easy charm and was delighted when he offered her a job.

Innocent Elaine told Walker her boyfriend Platt had been brought up in Canada, was infatuated with everything Canadian and desperate to go back there to live.

Walker, eager to cover his tracks, saw his chance. He made Elaine and Platt directors of his firm. Elaine flew all over Europe opening bank accounts for the corporation. Then Walker encouraged the two of them to emigrate to Canada so he could steal Platt's identity. Platt's family later dismissed suggestions that he was part of Walker's scams or may have blackmailed the Canadian by threatening to turn him in.

His brother Brian, 61, said: "There is no way Ron would be involved in anything criminal. The worst thing is that he might have been gullible."

In February 1993 Walker bought Platt and Elaine plane tickets to Calgary and the couple flew off to a new life. Elaine would return in six months. But Platt stayed for two years.

Before they left, Walker told them: "I'll sort out all the accounts." It left him with access to large sums of money in the name of Boyes and Platt.

Armed with Platt's driving licence and other ID, Walker now dropped the name Davis and started calling himself Ronald Platt. He also began using business stamps of Elaine and Platt's signatures.

In September that year while living with her father in Tiverton, Devon, Sheena gave birth to her first child Emily.

She said later that when the baby was due her father suggested they change their names to Ronald Platt and Elaine Boyes "for medical reasons," and that they should pose as a newly wed couple. But she sometimes gave the game away by calling Walker "daddy."

Sheena gave birth to a second daughter, Lilian, in January 1996. The father was listed as Ronald Platt, the mother as "Elaine Claire Boyes, otherwise Noel Platt."

During the trial both prosecution and defence carefully avoided mentioning who was the father. There was no suggestion of Sheena having any friends - let alone boyfriends - of her own age.

In September 1994 Walker and his family moved to Little London farm in Woodham Walter, Essex. Walker joined a business counselling firm claiming to be the cousin of soccer star David Platt.

Eight months later, to his horror, Platt returned penniless from Canada and took a home in nearby Chelmsford.

To Walker, he was a living threat who could bring him down. It is not known how he talked his way out of using Platt's name. But the seeds of murder were implanted.

In June 1996 Walker oversaw the launching of his yacht, Lady Jane, at Galmpton Creek, near Dartmouth, Devon.

The following month he and Platt booked in to the Steam Packet Inn, at Totnes, using the names Ronald and David Platt and claiming to be related. It is a mystery why Platt agreed to this.

Two days later Walker bought the 10lb anchor paying with a credit card in the name of R Platt. Then, on Saturday, July 20, he set sail with Platt and headed out to sea.

There, detectives believe he smashed Platt over the head, tied him to the anchor and threw him overboard. The official cause of death was drowning.

Eight days later fishermen pulled Platt's body from the sea. The only clue to identification was the serial number on his favourite Rolex watch and a maple leaf tattoo on the back of his right hand.

Through Rolex, police discovered the watch was last repaired in Harrogate with the owner named as Ronald Platt.

Platt had given an address in Chelmsford, where a landlord said he had moved on. But he supplied the phone number of a friend...David Davis.

Police phoned "Mr Davis" - Walker - who confirmed he knew Platt. Between then and his arrest Walker, still posing as a financial consultant, withdrew hundreds of thousands of pounds from banks.

Then, in October, an officer decided to visit him at his home where he discovered by mistake that Walker was living under the name of Platt.

Alarm bells rang, and two weeks later Walker was arrested by armed police. A detective said: "He was as cool as a cucumber. But he never admitted a thing."

Countdown to a wicked killing

DEC 5 1990: Walker deserts wife and flees Canada with 15-year- old Sheena.

JAN 1991: Canadian police start an investigation into missing 4million dollars.

MAR-APL 1991: Elaine Boyes and Ron Platt meet Walker in Harrogate. He's posing as a Mr Davis.

FEB 1993: Platt and Boyes emigrate to Canada with tickets from Walker.

SEPT 22 1993: Sheena Walker, using name Elaine Boyes, gives birth to baby Emily Platt.

APL 1994: Walker, now using name Platt, buys yacht Peach and changes name to Lady Jane.

SEPT 1994: Walker and family move to Little London Farm as Platts.

MAY 1995: Platt returns from Canada and is met by Walker.

DEC 25 1995: Platt goes to Christmas lunch with Walker.

JAN 16 1996: Sheena gives birth to baby Lilian Platt.

JUN 23 1996: Walker and family go to Steam Packet Inn, Totnes, for two days to oversee launch of Lady Jane.

JUL 6 1996: Platt and Walker book into the Steam Packet as Ronald and David Platt.

JUL 8 1996: Walker buys a 10lb anchor, paying in name of R Platt.

JUL 9 1996: Walker and Platt stay at Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes.

JUL 20 1996: Day of murder.

JUL 28 1996: Trawler finds Platt's body.

AUG 20 1996: Detectives trace Platt's name through Rolex watch - it leads them to "Mr Davis."

AUG 22 1996: Walker, under alias Davis, tells police he last saw Platt in June.

OCT 14 1996: Detective visits "Davis" to give him a message. Neighbour tells him the man living at Little London Farm is called Platt.

OCT 31 1996: Walker arrested.

DEC 9 1996: Charged with murder.

Stroke

of luck

for cop

AN amazing stroke of luck led to the net closing on evil Albert Walker.

Detective Peter Redman was sent to see a man called David Davis, who said he knew murder victim Ronald Platt.

Davies was the name Walker was using before he called himself Platt.

Redman was looking for Little London Farmhouse in Woodham Walter, Essex, but knocked on the door of Little London House by mistake.

Redman recalled: "An elderly gentleman answered the door and said 'this is Little London House, next door is Little London Farmhouse'.

"I then asked if Mr Davis lived there and he replied 'no, Ronald Platt lives there'."

Neighbour Frank Johnson told Redman that "Platt" had a boat moored on the River Dart in Devon.

When police searched "Davis", they found a driving licence in the name of Ronald Platt.

Fingerprints show the suspect was wanted in Canada under his real name, Albert Walker.

Hunt for

his 'pot of gold'

POLICE, lawyers and accountants on two continents are seeking the elusive "pot of gold" they believe Walker stashed away.

He took up to three million dollars with him when he fled Canada and in the three years before that he failed to invest, lost or stole another 10 million dollars.

Detectives have found about half a million dollars in antique art, goods and cash sitting in 14 British banks.

Efforts are being made, through diplomatic channels and Interpol, to gain access to another dozen bank accounts in Switzerland, Italy and France as well as two in the Cayman Islands.

Walker is thought to have had a maze of 40 different accounts in two dozen banks.

Toronto Mountie Ralph King said: "We're still looking for a pot of gold."

So far the search has yielded peanuts.

One Milan bank account only had the equivalent of about pounds 150 in it and a Geneva account held about pounds 400.
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Article Details
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Author:Lakeman, Geoff
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 7, 1998
Words:2048
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