A 56-year-old UK man was sentenced to life in jail on Monday after having been found guilty by a London court for the rape and murder of a Greek Cypriot teenage girl back in 1982.
James Warnock strangled then 17-year-old Yiannoulla Yianni in an attack described as “cruel, brutal and without mercy” at her family home in Hampstead.
The grisly murder sparked one of the longest manhunts in Met Police history.
Warnock managed to evade justice for 34 years, despite still living in the local community, and was only caught by a chance DNA match.
Last year the tiler was arrested for sending child abuse images to an undercover police officer. He subsequently gave a routine DNA sample, which matched a profile retrieved from a semen stain at the 1982 crime scene.
According to the Evening Standard, “Warnock told police after his arrest he had been a ‘ladies man’ in his youth, comparing himself to Travolta and claiming he and Yiannoulla enjoyed a secret love affair in summer 1982’.”
Warnock, who had only been married for a year at the time of the murder, went on to have two sons with his second wife while continuing to live and work in London.
He will serve at least 25 years before he is considered for release.
Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC told the Old Bailey that Yiannoulla had endured a “terrifying ordeal” at knifepoint.
Sentencing Warnock, Judge Hilliard said: “It is impossible to understand how one human being could do such things to another.”
In the wake of the conviction, the Yianni family described how Yiannoulla’s murder had left them “saturated by grief” although they always believed her killer would be caught.
Yiannoulla’s other brother, Rick, said their father George had died six years after the murder, “a broken man” and the family “scarred for life”.
“Thankfully the long arm of the law reached out from the past to bring this evil being to justice,” he added.
“I have no doubt Lucy’s evil murderer will one day be passing through the gates of hell.”
Warnock is believed to have stalked Yiannoulla in the weeks before the attack, learning her movements as she walked between the Belsize Road family home and her father’s shop.
On the day of the murder, August 13, 1982, she left the shop to go home and prepare the family dinner.
Yiannoulla, known as Lucy, was lured outside by Warnock who forced his way inside and dragged her upstairs into the flat.
Police believe the schoolgirl was held at knifepoint, her clothes were cut off, and Warnock submerged her in the bath and then strangled her.
Her body was discovered later in the day by her parents in their bedroom.