A paedophile who raped and murdered a teenage schoolgirl in 1982 could die in prison after being jailed for life today (Mon).
James Warnock, 56, evaded justice for 34 years after he killed Yiannoulla Yianni, also known as Lucy, while she was at home alone preparing her family’s dinner.
Warnock had been stalking the teen, and followed her home in August 1982 when he realised she would be alone.
Armed with a knife, he knocked on the front door, before forcing his way in and chasing the 17-year-old through the house, before brutally raping her on her parents’ bed, then strangling her to death.
Warnock then made his getaway, and Yiannoulla’s body was found later that day by her parents Elli and George at their home in Belsize Park, north London.
A huge murder investigation was launched, but it remained unsolved for “half-a-lifetime”, despite the fact Warnock lived nearby.
But a breakthrough came in January this year, when Warnock’s DNA matched semen found at the crime scene.
He was arrested last December for distributing indecent images of children online, and a DNA swab was taken.
Warnock, a self-employed tiler, made up a far-fetched story that he was in a sexual relationship with the teen in the summer of 1982, claiming he looked “like John Travolta”.
But a jury rejected his claims, and he was found guilty of rape and murder last week.
After the verdicts came back, he pleaded guilty to six counts of distributing indecent photographs of children.
At the Old Bailey today (Mon), Warnock was jailed for life with a minimum of 25 years for murder.
He was handed a 20 year sentence for the rape, which will run concurrently.
And he also received sentences of between five months and four years for distributing indecent images of children, which will run concurrently.
Trial judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, the Recorder of London, said: “Statements were read to me on Friday detailing the devastating effect Yiannoulla’s murder has had on members of her family.
“We heard that George Yianni worked tirelessly to keep the case alive, insisting on regularly meeting with the police and offering the rewards we have heard about.
“Almost 34 years ago on the 13th of August 1982, you ended one life and devastated a number of others.
“Yiannoulla was only 17-years-old when you raped and murdered her.”
Although the circumstances of her death were “truly dreadful”, the “brightness of her spirit” meant she would not be remembered by her death, he said.
Judge Hilliard said: “She still refused to be defined and remembered only by the awful things that you did to her.
“Instead she remains captured for all time by the photograph we have seen of the happy and hopeful 17-year-old.
“Yiannoulla’s family do not have even the small comfort of knowing that her death was swift.”
He added: “I am sure that you were armed with a knife and you took that with you to the scene, as your means of ensuring that she would submit to your demands.
“You had no basis whatsoever for thinking she might be a willing participant, none at all, let that be clearly understood.
“You intended to kill her, I am sure you decided to do this to obstruct justice, so she would not be able to identify her attacker.
“It is impossible to understand how one human being could do such things to another.
“After your arrest in connection with the images, you were required to give a routine DNA sample.
“It was not the turn of the authorities to come to your front door.”
He said Warnock’s claim he was in a sexual relationship with the teen was “the grossest insult”.
Judge Hilliard said: “On any view, you pose a grave risk to young women.
“I appreciate that you will very likely die in prison.”
Warnock, wearing a black suit and white shirt, made no reaction as he was jailed.
Yiannoulla’s family were present in court as the sentence was passed.
Following the DNA match, police found Warnock in a hotel room, sitting in his underpants drinking beer.
He was charged with Yiannoulla’s murder, but told police he had a secret affair with her 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 using details gleaned from press reports.
Warnock, who was 22 at the time, claimed he met Yiannoulla near her father’s shoe shop in South Hampstead, north London.
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”.
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.
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 hunt.