Canadian financial consultant Albert Walker embezzled millions of dollars from his church and clients before running away to Europe in 1990. To cover up his crimes, Walker later murdered a business associate, dumping the body in the English Channel. Police found the body, however, and were able to convict Walker with the help of his daughter, who testified against him.
In 1990, Ontario financial consultant and Sunday school teacher Albert Johnson Walker took his 15-year-old daughter Sheena on a skiing trip to Europe. He left his wife Barbara to look after their three other children until his return, but he had no intention of coming back.
The exceptionally gifted salesman had set up the United Canvest Corporation in the Cayman Islands and duped his fellow churchgoers and friends out of millions of dollars. Unbeknownst to his wife, Walker had re-mortgaged their house for over 44,000 pounds and amassed up 32 counts of fraud. Provincial police fraud charges amounted to over 1.67 million pounds and Walker became Canada's most wanted man and No. 4 on Interpol's list of international fugitives.
He met Elaine Boyes, a receptionist for a fine art auctioneer in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and as they chatted she told him how much she and her boyfriend, TV repairman Ronald Platt, would love to move to Canada one day. Ronald was so enthusiastic about the country he even had a maple leaf tattooed on the back of his right hand.
Walker offered the couple directorship of his company, The Cavendish Corporation. They eventually accepted and he sent them on business trips abroad, frequently asking them to convert money from Swiss francs to British pounds when they were there.
In 1992, Albert Walker gave Ronald and Elaine two one-way airline tickets to Calgary as a Christmas present. He persuaded Ronald to leave him a signature stamp for corporate documents along with his driver's license, birth certificate and a credit card. The minute Ronald was out of the country Walker proceeded to steal his identity.
By 1996 Walker and Sheena had moved to Essex and were living as husband and wife under the names of Ronald and Noelle. They had two young daughters and their birth certificates cited Ronald Platt as the father.
Walker kept in contact with the real Ronald Platt and spoke to Elaine occasionally, who had eventually left Ronald in Canada. However, disillusioned with the Canadian economy, Ronald Platt returned to England and settle close to Walker and his daughter.
Walker realized his cover was about to be blown, so he invited Ronald to Devon with Sheena and their daughters and took him out for a trip on his yacht. Four miles out to sea, Walker hit Ronald over the head with an anchor, tied it around his waist and tipped his body into the English Channel. Ronald's disappearance wasn't noticed for six weeks.
On 28th July, 1996, John Copik pulled up a body tangled in the nets of his fishing trawler off the coast of south Devon. There was an injury to the back of the man's head, but everything indicated that he accidentally drowned. At first the man's identity was a mystery to the police, but he was wearing an expensive Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatch. The police contacted Rolex, who keep records of purchases, and they discovered that a man by the name of Ronald Platt had that particular watch repaired ten years earlier in 1986.
The police found Walker's mobile phone number on a reference letter Ronald had given a letting agent company. When they spoke to Walker he was more than helpful and went into the police station voluntarily. He told them that as far as he was aware Ronald had gone to France.
Arrest and Trial
Essex police contacted Walker to clear up a few matters. He was still using the name of David Davis, but when they went to his house he wasn't there. A neighbor informed them that Ronald Platt lived next door, not David Davis, and Ronald had a yacht in Devon.
On October 31, 1997 police arrested Walker on suspicion of the murder of Ronald Joseph Platt and found Sheena stuffing gold bars into a diaper bag. In the previous month Walker had bought over 67,000 pounds in gold bullion.
Walker was able to pretend to be anything or anyone at any time, but the evidence against him was strong. A global positioning system later pinpointed Walker's yacht to the area at the time when Ronald died. One of Ronald's fingerprints was also found on a plastic bag on the boat and Sheena testified against her father, excusing her behavior by claiming she had been hypnotized by him.
Walker admitted during his murder trial that he stole from clients in Canada, but has never confessed to killing Ronald. At Exeter Crown Court in June 1998, the jury took just two hours to convict Walker of Ronald's murder and embezzlement. The judge said Walker had committed "a callous, premeditated killing."
By 2000, bankruptcy trustees had recovered about 500,000 pounds of embezzled money, but authorities are unsure how much the former financial adviser stole and how much he lost in failed business ventures. There were possibly 150,000 pounds in gold bullion that was never recovered, but Walker has never revealed how much money remains hidden.
Sheena and her children were allowed to return to Canada after the trial and Britain signed an agreement with the Canadian authorities in June 2004 to transfer Walker back. He was returned in February 2005, after nearly seven years in prison. The Canadian police have said they fully intend to proceed with the 37 outstanding fraud and theft charges against him. Walker is eligible for parole on July 6, 2013.
The true identity of the father of Sheena's children has never been revealed.
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