Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 15:00 UK

Surrey chef 'urged mother-in-law not to see body'

Peter Wallner
Peter Wallner said his wife died from a brain aneurysm

A Surrey chef who killed his wife and hid her body in a freezer for three years told her mother not to ask to see her body, a court has heard.

The body of Melanie Wallner was found in a wheelie bin last June.

Peter Wallner, 34, formerly of Hamilton Avenue, Cobham, denies murder but admits manslaughter.

In a statement read to the Old Bailey, Mrs Wallner's mother Jeanne Oosthuizen said her son-in-law had told her that her daughter had collapsed and died.

She said Mr Wallner had called her at her home in South Africa from the UK in August 2006 to break the news of her 30-year-old daughter's death.

He said we should look for a blue urn, because she liked the colour
Jeanne Oosthuizen, Melanie Wallner's mother

Ms Oosthuizen said he told her not to visit the coroner to view the body as her face was "black and bruised" and "to try to remember her the way she was".

In a statement read by prosecutor Bobbie Cheema, she recalled how when she arrived in the UK she asked Mr Wallner what he thought had happened, and he speculated that her daughter might have suffered from a blood clot to the brain.

Mr Wallner later told Ms Oosthuizen the coroner gave the cause of death as a brain aneurysm.

The court heard Mr Wallner helped to make arrangements for a wake in the UK and a memorial service in Pretoria, South Africa.

"He said we should look for a blue urn, because she liked the colour. He said he would fly out with her ashes."

Melanie Wallner
Melanie Wallner's body was found in a wheelie bin in June 2009

Jurors were told on Tuesday how Mr Wallner had filled an urn with wood ashes from his barbecue, which were interred on Mrs Wallner's father's farm in South Africa.

Ms Oosthuizen said she started to become suspicious about the circumstances surrounding her daughter's death in 2007 and asked for her death certificate, but despite several requests Mr Wallner had always avoided actually handing it over.

The prosecution has alleged that Mr Wallner murdered his South African wife with a griddle pan, bought a freezer from Argos and left her body inside it for nearly three years while playing the part of "the grieving husband".

Miss Cheema said when Mr Wallner had to move out of the house the couple had shared, he sold the freezer and tried to dispose of the body of his wife in a large plastic wheelie bin.

However, refuse collectors refused to take the bin because it was too heavy, and Mrs Wallner's body was discovered by the landlord who saw her ankle when he opened it last June, the jury heard.

Following the discovery of the body and after he had been arrested, Mr Wallner told police that he had hit his wife with a heavy pan during an argument and had done so in self-defence because she had attacked him first with a rolling pin.

The trial continues.

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