Daily Mail

Killer went on run for 39 years using name of dead man

- By Rebecca Camber Crime and Security Editor

A killer who evaded justice for almost 40 years by assuming the identity of a dead man to travel around europe is finally facing life behind bars.

Paul Bryan was 22 when he stabbed 62-year- old roman Szalajko at his flat in kennington, south london, in 1984.

Three days later he applied for an emergency passport and fled the country. For 39 years, Bryan spun a web of lies living under a false identity. The now 62-year-old pretended to be American, claimed to have gone AWOL from the Army and said he was in the Foreign legion as he travelled around Portugal, Crete, Spain and France living off his wife’s money.

But a Scotland Yard detective who spent a decade chasing Bryan finally tracked him down after discoverin­g he had assumed the identity of an older man with the same name who died in 1987.

Now Bryan is finally facing justice after being convicted of murder at the Old Bailey yesterday.

in 1984 he was working as a ‘heavy’ and went to see Mr Szalajko, a known gambler, to enforce a debt or get paperwork after a deal went wrong, police believe. When Bryan arrived the Pole was calling a friend and was heard to scream: ‘What do you want? Help! Help!’ The friend called police who found the father of three with a fatal stab wound. Police found fingerprin­ts but it wasn’t until a cold case review in 2013 that they recovered Bryan’s print from a bottle left in his victim’s wardrobe.

This was matched to a 1997

‘Fantasist who feigned amnesia’

drugs arrest when Bryan was with wife Sylvia. He was arrested after returning penniless to Britain after his tour operator wife died.

The officer who caught him, Detective Sergeant Quinn Cutler, described him as a fantasist who feigned amnesia to avoid talking about the murder. He said there was no record of Bryan having a job or paying tax since the 1980s.

‘it was like he did not exist,’ he added. Bryan will be sentenced on December 8.

 ?? ?? Victim: Roman Szalajko
Victim: Roman Szalajko
 ?? ?? Stabbing: Paul Bryan
Stabbing: Paul Bryan

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