Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Author's murderer jailed for life

A court sketch of Wang Yam
Wang Yam will serve at least 20 years

A conman found guilty of murdering an 86-year-old author in north London has been jailed for life.

Wang Yam beat to death reclusive author Allan Chappelow at his Hampstead home in June 2006 to steal his identity.

Mr Chappelow was found battered to death under a pile of his papers in June 2006, the Old Bailey had heard.

Wang, 46, of Hampstead, will have to serve a minimum of 20 years before being considered for parole, after being convicted of murder this month.

Penniless Wang, who had been posing as a multi-millionaire, spent a month cloning Mr Chappelow's identity using documents from the house but attempts to get cash failed when his Chinese accent alerted bank staff.

Battered several times

Wang denied the killing and burglary at the Manor House, Downshire Hill, during which cheques and a bank card were stolen.

Mr Chappelow was battered several times over the head at the dilapidated house worth 4.1m. He had returned from a trip to America in May.

Wang was given concurrent sentences of up to four-and-a-half years for offences of burglary, dishonestly obtaining two bank transfers for 20,000, dishonestly handling four stolen cheques and theft.

The judge Mr Justice Ouseley described Wang as "cynical, amoral and greedy" and said Mr Chappelow had been struck five times on the head and received further blows to his neck and body.

Allan Chappelow
Allan Chappelow, 86, was savagely beaten to death
"They were inflicted on a defenceless man who was semi-conscious at times during the assault," the judge said.

"His body was concealed under nearly half a tonne of papers."

He said the murder was committed in the course of a burglary during which Wang was stealing mail.

The defence case was held 'in camera' with the press and public excluded for national security reasons and to ensure the administration of justice.

Detectives believe Wang would have gone on to try to sell Mr Chappelow's house if the body had not been found on 14 June after police were alerted.

The trial was the second for Wang. In April last year, a jury was discharged after failing to agree a verdict on the murder charge.

The author, an expert on playwright George Bernard Shaw, found success in the 1960s, but had become reclusive in recent years.

The house has since been sold for 4m and, as Mr Chappelow did not have any close family, two distant cousins in Denmark will inherit the proceeds.

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