July 2016

Paedophile convicted of raping & murdering girl after he was caught distributing indecent images of children

James Warnock - Camden

A paedophile has been convicted of raping and murdering a teenage schoolgirl 34 years ago.

James Warnock, 56, attacked teenager Yiannoulla Yianni while she was at home alone preparing her family’s dinner in August 1982.

He knocked on the door then forced his way in and chased the terrified teen through the house, before raping her on her parents’ bed and strangling her to death.

Yiannoulla’s body was found by her distraught parents Elli and George later that afternoon at their home in Belsize Park, north London.

The murder remained unsolved for “half-a-lifetime” until January this year, when Warnock’s DNA matched semen found at the crime scene

It can now be reported that Warnock was arrested last December over distributing indecent images of children, and his DNA sample was taken.

The jury of six men and six women took two hours and 15 minutes to return guilty verdicts for the rape and murder charges on Thursday.

At the Old Bailey on Friday, he pleaded guilty to six counts of distributing indecent photographs of children. Three of the counts related to January 2013, and three last December.

Members of Yiannoulla’s family – including her brothers Peter and Ricky, and sister Maria – broke down in court as the verdicts came back, while loud sobbing could be heard from the public gallery.

Warnock, wearing a black suit and white shirt, showed no emotion as the verdicts were announced. As he left the dock, Yiannoulla’s sister Maria stood up to watch him.

Outside the courtroom, the family hugged each other and thanked the police involved in the investigation.

Trial judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, the Recorder of London, thanked the jury and said the family “have had to wait so long” for the man who raped and murdered Yiannoulla to be identified.

He said: “I recognise the enormous burden they have carried for so many years.”

Legal restrictions prohibited reporting of the guilty verdicts in case there was a trial for the charges of indecent child images, but these were lifted following his guilty pleas.

Following the DNA match, police found Warnock in a hotel room, sitting in his underpants drinking beer.

He was charged with her murder, but told police he had a secret affair with Yiannoulla in the summer of 1982, while working in the area as a tiler.

Police believe he knew his days were numbered from the moment his DNA was taken, and so hastily began preparing a cover story. 

Warnock, who was 22 at the time, told police he looked “like John Travolta”, and had met Yiannoulla near her father’s shoe shop in Hampstead.

He claimed they began spending time together, and started to have quick lunchtime sex sessions at her home while her family was out, which he described as “nice” and “gentle”.

But his story did not fit, as Yiannoulla was a virgin, and had a strict, traditional Greek upbringing.

She was not allowed out of the house without a chaperone, and was not allowed a boyfriend, the court heard.

He also claimed they could not go back to his flat, on the 17th floor of a tower block half a mile away, in case his wife Lynne found out.

Warnock said his relationship with Yiannoulla ended abruptly, and he never saw her again – and had no idea she had been killed, despite the extensive media coverage and police activity.

Crispin Aylett QC, prosecuting, said Warnock claimed he had sex with Yiannoulla “on about 10 separate occasions”.

Mr Aylett said: “He remembered that she had always been anxious her parents would come home and find them.

“When asked how he didn’t know about her murder from the newspapers and TV, he said he only read the sports pages and that there were only four TV channels.

“The prosecution allege the defendant, when faced with the overwhelming evidence, simply made up a story. His story does not bear scrutiny. It was not just semen recovered from the bedspread, but blood.

“If Yiannoulla had conducted a secret relationship from her parents, it might be thought that she had been reckless in the extreme inviting the defendant into her home.

“Her older sister said that neither of them would never take a boyfriend home, ‘never in a million years’. They were very close and they did not know anything about it. They knew where Yiannoulla was at all times.”

On the day of her murder, Yiannoulla, who was waiting for her O-level results, went with her mother to visit her father at the shoe shop.

After a while, her mother asked her to go home and prepare the family’s evening meal, and Yiannoulla left.

Witnesses later described seeing a man at the door of the family home, and one saw Yiannoulla talking to a man apparently in his 20s.

A neighbour reported hearing arguing coming from the house, and another heard a scream.

When Yiannoulla’s parents returned, they found Yiannoulla’s jewellery scattered on the stairs and landing.

Mr Aylett said: “When they called out her name, there was no reply. In their search for Yiannoulla they went into the bedroom. They were met with a sight beyond their worst imagining.

“Their beloved daughter was lying on their bed, she was obviously dead, her breasts were exposed and she was naked from the waist down.

“George threw flower pots out the window to get attention, yelling ‘they killed my daughter’.”

Warnock, of Camden, north London, will be sentenced later.