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Terrorism bill opens way for secret inquests

Detectives turn attention to Northern Cyprus as search for missing Securitas millions continues

Bull terriers shut in lifts for fight to death

Father of Philip Lawrence's killer jailed for murder

Police chief says 'we were too hasty' in naming McCanns as suspects

Raid on Roma homes for trafficked children proves a fiasco

Millionaire writer 'murdered by identity thief'

Husband who helped wife with MS to die is spared jail

Husband held after award-winning BBC make-up artist disappears

Murder rate falls for fifth successive year, but concern over 'hidden' family violence

£53m robbery suspect is flown back to UK

Police raids target people-smuggling gang

Boy, 13, arrested over stabbing

£3.5bn a year lost to inreasingly sophisticated scams, Office of Fair Trading warns

Parents of a girl stabbed in a Lancashire park are confident she will recover fully

Millionaire writer 'murdered by identity thief'

Recluse killed by bankrupt owing £1m, Old Bailey told Bank accounts 'accessed through stolen post'

Robert Booth
Saturday February 2, 2008
The Guardian

A reclusive millionaire writer was beaten to death at his Hampstead home in north London by an identity thief who plundered his bank accounts to steal more than £20,000, the Old Bailey heard yesterday. Allan Chappelow, an 84-year old biographer of George Bernard Shaw, was found in June 2006 buried under a pile of papers in his dilapidated £2.5m home, the court heard.

The killer, according to Mark Ellison, prosecuting, was Wang Yam, 46, a British citizen born in China who had declared himself a bankrupt owing £1.1m in September 2004. For about a month before Chappelow's body was found someone had been stealing his post and using information from it to access his bank and credit card accounts. Yam denies murder, burglary and four dishonesty offences.

Before the case started Mr Justice Ouseley told the jury part of it would be heard in camera with press and public excluded. He would explain why on Monday. "I am not going to explain why this is so at the moment. It will become apparent to you when it arises," the judge said. "It is a very unusual thing to happen in the course of a criminal trial but it is necessary because of some of the evidence you will hear."

The first evidence of a break-in at Chappelow's home emerged as he returned from a trip to America on May 1 2006 to find the front door of his house on Downshire Hill forced open and post stolen. He was last known to be alive on May 8, when he telephoned the Revenue and Customs to check if a tax rebate had gone missing in the theft. A postman who kept delivering to the house, which had a heavily overgrown garden, one day found his path to the house blocked by a tree or shrub. He was later approached by a "Chinese man" who asked about the delivery, said Ellison. "Hearing about the tree, he responded by saying he was related to the occupant and would ensure it would be cleared by the next day."

Ellison said that from Friday May 12 Yam was manipulating the author's bank and credit card accounts to get cash. Yam obtained a money transfer of £20,000 and took four cheques from the post in a form of identity theft known as "facility takeover", where the thief impersonates his victim over the internet or telephone, Ellison said.

Chappelow is thought to have died between May 15 and 23, during which time more post was stolen. The court heard that an email account was set up in Chappelow's name at an internet cafe in Charing Cross Road. It was later accessed at Yam's home.

Before Yam filed for bankruptcy he set up several businesses. In 2006 he lived with Hui Dong, his girlfriend, a few streets from Chappelow. The rent was in arrears and the couple were due to be evicted in June 2006. Yam had told estate agents in Hampstead he was worth £39m in Swiss francs and viewed properties in the area worth over £1m. The trial continues.

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