Jul 23, 2007 05:00 PM
KINGSTON – Convicted killer and former international fugitive Albert Walker was handed a four-year sentence on fraud-related charges today, closing another chapter in a sordid transcontinental tale of murder and deceit.
Walker, 61, is already serving a life sentence in Kingston Penitentiary for the murder of a friend whose identity he assumed after fleeing to Britain 17 years ago with his daughter Sheena.
Justice Rommel Masse sentenced Walker to four years for 19 fraud-related crimes and one year, to be served concurrently, on a charge of violating the Bankruptcy Act.
Walker pleaded guilty in April to the charges, which stem from his days as an investment manager in southwestern Ontario.
Dressed in a red shirt and jeans, his hands manacled in front of his body, Walker didn’t say anything in court. He pleaded guilty in April to the charges, which stem from his days as an investment manager in southwestern Ontario.
“This offender has victimized many people,” Masse said. “He took advantage of his friends and neighbours.”
During his sentencing hearing in April, the court heard how he abused the trust of some 23 investors – many of them friends – by bilking them of an estimated $2.5 million.
The Crown described how Walker duped his friends and acquaintances by assuring them that their money would be invested in government bonds and other solid investments. Instead, they ended up in offshore companies and accounts Walker controlled.
Just over $1 million of the stolen funds have been recovered to date, but nearly half of that sum was spent in the effort, according to a federal lawyer. Twelve victim impact statements were entered into evidence.
Both the Crown and Walker's lawyer, Sean Ellacott, were seeking a jail sentence of between three to five years.
Canadian police initially charged Walker in 1993 with 18 counts of fraud, theft and money-laundering. In 1998, they laid 37 charges which effectively replaced the initial 18 charges.
That same year, a British court sentenced him to life in prison for the murder of Ronald Platt, 51, a friend whose identity he assumed. Walker, who was jailed for life without parole for at least 15 years, was transferred to a Canadian prison in February 2005 to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Sheena, who had two children while on the run with her father, was posing as his wife. Police allowed her and her daughters, whose paternity has not been made public, to return to Canada.
Since his return, Sheena and Walker's ex-wife have both said they fear for their safety.
In the 1980s, Walker was a married businessman with four children and a financial services company, Walkers Financial Services, in Woodstock, Ont.
He disappeared in the early 1990s from his home in Paris, Ont., taking his daughter and millions of dollars from clients of his financial services business with him.
Walker met and befriended Platt, a man fixated on emigrating to Canada. Walker paid for Platt to do that in early 1993, then assumed his identity to evade Canadian authorities and Interpol. Later, Platt came back to England and continually sought financial help from Walker.
In July 1996, Walker persuaded Platt to go sailing with him – despite Platt's deep-seated fear of being on water. The Crown alleged Walker murdered Platt by knocking him out, weighing his body down with an anchor and dumping him overboard.
About a week later, a fishing trawler scooped up Platt's body and a murder investigation began. British police stumbled on Walker by tracing him through a Rolex watch found on the corpse to an English village.
Sheena was found stuffing cash and gold bars into bags. She was also arrested but released and allowed to return to Canada with her daughters.
Police believe Walker killed Platt because he was a threat to his new life, although Walker has repeatedly denied responsibility for the killing.
Walker first requested a transfer to a Canadian jail in 2000, indicating he'd trade information on the missing money in return.