Murder story in TAKE A BREAK magazine…
When beauty therapist Anita, 49, married Paul Gerlach in 2010 she believed she’d met the love of her life. But as soon as they came back from their honeymoon he became nasty. Within weeks he’d become violent and she had a restraining order out on him. Within six months their marriage was over.
For months Gerlach contacted Anita trying to get her to go back with him. But one day he rang Anita in a state. Worried he might do something stupid, Anita went to see him. Gerlach owned a boat and it turned out earlier that day while going out with some friends there had been an accident and a man had drowned.
However, now he was boasting to Anita that he had murdered him. Anita was shocked and couldn’t get Gerlach’s confession out of her mind. Although Gerlach had violent tendencies, she couldn’t believe he would stoop to murder.
However, tortured by his confession after weeks of agonising she went to the police. It turned out they’d already been contacted by passersby who’d seen Gerlach and his mate acting suspiciously – one had even taken a photo. They had already suspected and bugged Gerlach’s flat so had the confession. Only Gerlach said he was lying and it was ‘bravado’ with his ex wife. However, Anita knew he was telling the truth and said so.
When the case came to trial Anita, who was part of the prosecution case and made a statement about his confession, was shocked to hear how her ex husband and a friend had a drunken fight with friend Rico Dardis. In anger they deliberately pushed him in the sea and then drove the speedboat propellers over the drowning 30-year-old dad, ripping both his legs from his body. They then tried to remove his severed limb from the boat propeller from the drowning man, ripping both his legs from his body.
Shocking photos were taken by a member of the public of their callous actions. Gerlach, 51, has now been jailed for life.
Anita feels she had a lucky escape. Gerlach was violent and totally different from the man she first met.
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A KILLER IN THE FAMILY…
By Alison Smith-Squire
Anita knew her ex Paul Gerlach could be nasty but she never realised he was capable of murder…
I was working in a bar when Paul Gerlach walked in for a drink. He was working on a nearby building site and had already caught my eye.
“Hello gorgeous,” he said, smiling.
Six months earlier I’d have said I’d never look at another man again. My husband of seven years and I had just split – we’d been together for a total of 15 years – and I was enjoying being single.
But Paul didn’t give me time to hesitate. “Fancy coming out on a date with me?” he asked. And I found myself nodding yes.
Within weeks I’d fallen head over heels with Paul.
Funny, outspoken, yet smiley, charming and cuddly. He seemed to have everything I ever wanted in a man.
Two weeks later he moved into my flat. Within three months we’d wed at Bournemouth Registry office.
The first three days on our ten-day honeymoon in Egypt were wonderful. But soon things were going downhill. It was as if I’d married Mr Jeckle and Mr Hyde. Mr Jeckle was the jovial charming Paul. But underneath that was Mr Hyde –a frightening, cold and calculating individual.
Paul liked to have a drink but if I asked him not to, he’d snap and become bad-tempered.
And when we got home he seemed happier to go out with his mates than be with me.
As a result, our sex life was virtually non existent.
“I thought we were having a night in?” I said one evening. I imagined a romantic night with a take away in front of the telly. But now Paul was standing there, his best shirt on.
“Well, I’m off out,” he said. Something about the way he said it shut me up.
Yet he was possessive. “You’re flirting,” he said if I so much as spoke with another man. It was as if he wanted to pick a fight.
Soon we were bickering all the time. And when he got like that I saw a chilling look in his eyes. Cold and uncaring. The Mr Jeckle frightened me and made me shiver.
Then one night I got in from seeing a friend.
“Where have you been?” he asked gruffly.
It wasn’t late – only 9pm – but I couldn’t face a row again.
“I’m going to bed,” I said. Only as I walked up the stairs he kicked me in my leg.
I fell knocking my chin on the steps as I did so.
I could taste blood in my mouth and Paul had that look in his eyes that scared me.
I ran outside and rang the police on my phone. Paul was arrested and charged with ABH.
A few days later he pleaded guilty to assault and was given 14 months community service.
Meanwhile I moved out to a friend’s house. I’d realised my whirlwind marriage was a terrible mistake. I wasn’t going to be one of those battered wives who kept chucking out their husbands and then taking them back. I booked a cruise to give myself a fresh start – and put my Paul Gerlach experience behind me.
Paul begged me to come back.
“I can change,” he said.
But I could remember that cruel cold look that he got when he was angry.
“We’re best off as friends,” I said.
Months passed. Paul and while he wanted to try again, I refused. He got a boat and that seemed to make him happier. I would occasionally see him –and we got to the point where I could visit him for a chat without both of us arguing.
Then in May 2013 I got a frantic phone call from Paul’s nephew.
“Have you seen the news on TV?” he asked.
I switched the telly on and was horrified.
There was some film of Paul’s boat No Chance and the broadcaster was saying, “a body has been found…”
My heart stopped. Was it Paul’s body? The news broadcast didn’t say. Horrified I hurriedly put my coat on. Yes Paul and I had our bust ups but the thought something terrible had happened to him was still awful.
And when I got to his flat I was shocked to see it all taped up with police standing outside.
Thankfully Paul was ok – although being questioned by police. More shockingly, it was a friend of his who’d died. The evening news showed a photo of young dad and aspiring rapper Rico Dardis. According to his brother, he was a lovely family man and just 30 years old…
Clearly there had been some terrible accident. I wondered what could have happened…
The next day Paul rang. He’d just left the police station and sounded rattled.
“I need to see you,” he said. I gulped. Should I go and see him? Part of me said, don’t do it. But the other part tugged at my softer side. Paul sounded desperate on the phone. Clearly there had been a tragic accident and he didn’t have anyone else to talk to…
“OK I’m coming over,” I agreed.
He looked terrible. He’d been with the Police being questioned. He and two mates, Rico and Louis Borzoni, 50, had gone out for a ride in his boat.
There had been a row over some cigarettes and drink. I listened in silence, feeling sure he was going to tell me there had been some terrible accident and be full of remorse.
But instead his face contorted into that cold look I’d seen before.
“I killed him!” he suddenly announced.
Then seeing the look of shock on my face, he added: “I killed him… I ran him over with the boat.”
I began to shake. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was he really saying he’d murdered this man in cold blood.
“Yeah, I murdered him…and I’m not remorseful.”
Maybe it was bravado…
But suddenly I couldn’t wait to leave. It had been a huge mistake to come over. The memory of the night he tripped me on the stairs came flooding back. What was I doing here? I made my excuses and left.
But I couldn’t get what Paul had said out of my mind.
And over the next few weeks as news of how devastated Rico’s family were appeared in our local paper, what Paul told me played on my mind.
Two weeks later I was still having sleepless nights. “I killed him…” Paul’s bizarre boast played over and over in my mind.
Eventually one morning I couldn’t stand the torture any longer. Walking into my local police station I said, “It’s about Paul Gerlach. He’s confessed something terrible to me. He says he killed that man Rico…”
My heart was racing. I knew I was doing the right thing. But at the same time I was terrified. If he found out I’d gone to the police … it didn’t bear thinking about.
I went on: “I don’t want to make a statement…” I couldn’t risk Paul knowing I was doing this, “but I just want you to know….”
The Police officer Ken Todd nodded. I tried to put it out of my mind.
But a couple of weeks later Paul was arrested and charged with murder. Then two weeks before the trial I got a phone call.
It was the police officer. “We’re about to go to court,” he said, “but we need your help.”
He explained that the police had suspected Paul and his mate Bozoni of murdering Rico all along. Incredibly the Police had bugged Paul’s flat and recorded him telling me he’d killed Rico. But now Paul was claiming he lied to me.
“But he didn’t lie,” I said thinking back to his chilling confession, “ he was telling the truth.”
He said: “Then we need you to say that in court.”
I gave my statement. Only I felt paralysed with fear. What if Paul got off and came to find me, angry that I’d given evidence against him. But I thought of his cold eyes and what he’d done to that poor man.
Winchester Crown Court heard during the row Rico was pushed into the water. As he drowned he’d been run over with the boat’s propeller.
A suspicious passerby even took photos of the pair of them trying to unclog one of Rico’s limbs from the propeller.
The judge said the last thing Rico would have heard before he died was the sound of a propeller approaching. Yet Paul and Borzoni had shown no signs of remorse. I closed my eyes as I imagined the horror of it all.
Paul and Borzoni were found guilty and jailed for life.
As he went to prison I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d been terrified Paul would walk free and come after me but now a weight was lifted. Suddenly I remembered Paul’s Mr Hyde face. I’d had a lucky escape. “