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'Willing puppet' Manuel Wagner could not get away with his horrific crime twice

The 29-year-old convicted eight years after he helped murder his housemate

Convicted murderer Manuel Wagner(Image: Ian Cooper)

This man hoped he had got away with murder.

Manuel Wagner thought he was in the clear over his part in the plot to kill housemate Christophe Borgye in 2009.

The victim was brutally attacked before being buried under a shed in Hylton Court, Ellesmere Port.

A jury found Wagner not guilty of assisting an offender and preventing a lawful burial in 2014.

At the time he was only accused of helping to move the body.

But the evidence eventually caught up with the 29-year-old.

Fellow killer Sebastian Bendou, who was unable to give his account to Wagner's first trial, implicated his former friend as the man who was the first to attack Mr Borgye.

Bendou, 39, and the 'leader' Dominik Kocher, 38, are already serving life sentences.

Wagner, a German national, was charged with murder two years later.

Cheshire Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service had spent that time gathering more detailed evidence and tightening their case.

Manuel Wagner, 29, has been given a life sentence for murdering Christophe Borgye in 2009 (Image: Cheshire police)

Wagner, from Toxteth, sat quietly in the dock throughout the three-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

It must have felt familiar.

Each day he was dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, studying the courtroom through his glasses.

The jury saw through the quiet man who gave evidence, denying any involvement. There was little emotion as the guilty verdict was returned.

John McDermott QC, prosecuting, said: “We say as simply as we can the evidence in this case points unerringly to Manuel Wagner’s presence in and around Hylton Court that day.

“We know the murder took place in the kitchen that morning and he must have been part of it.

“We say that the true verdict against Manuel Wagner is he is guilty of murder and you can be sure of it.”

Wagner was loyal to his cousin Kocher, who he thought of like a brother.

His family had taken him in when he was orphaned as a child.

Along with Kocher's wife and three children, they moved together first to Spain and then to Liverpool in 2005.

This is where they linked up with Bendou, a childhood friend of Kocher, and Mr Borgye, before the group eventually moved to Ellesmere Port.

Victim Christophe Borgye

Wagner spent his time working long hours as a kitchen porter at different restaurants and takeaways.

Driven by a motive which remains unclear, Kocher turned the suggestible Bendou, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, against Mr Borgye with suggestions he was a French Government spy.

He also knew he could count on his cousin, his 'brother', his loyal sidekick too.

Three knives were bought ready for the attack. Three men attacked Christophe Borgye.

Judge Clement Goldstone QC, the honorary recorder of Liverpool, said Wagner 'played a full part'.

He said: "If Dominik Kocher was pulling the strings you were a willing marionette or puppet.

"You were in many respects his younger brother and he knew there was no danger you would breach his trust.

"You acted our of misguided loyalty by both agreeing to participate in the killing and carrying out the funeral arrangements."

Eight years after the murder and three after his fellow killers were convicted, Wagner has been found out.

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