A British businessman who murdered his glamorous Russian bride after he discovered she used to be a man has been jailed for 24 years.
Chris Collier, 40, battered wife Julia, 35, before smothering her to death at the couple’s apartment in Kusadasi, on the Aegean coast of Turkey.
He was arrested the day after her death on November 27, 2010 and last month he was jailed for 24 years after being convicted of murder.
Before emigrating to Turkey in the late 1990s, Collier had been a key figure in the Phones4U empire – the retail branch of the Caudwell Group – which was created by tycoon John Caudwell.
He was one of the first salesmen Caudwell employed when he was setting up his mobile phone business which he went on to sell for a staggering £1.46 billion in September 2006.
Speaking at the time of his arrest, Caudwell said: “Chris was one of my first salesman when I was starting out, so I remember him well. He was a good salesman and became a sales manager.
“It is shocking to hear he has been arrested for murder. It’s shocking to hear about any murder.”
Collier, originally from Rownall, Staffs., ran an estate agent in Turkey while his wife Julia was a professional pianist and lounge singer working in hotel bars.
During his trial in Turkey, the court heard Collier knocked Julia unconscious with a hard object before smothering her.
After her murder, detectives probed the couple’s relationship amid claims Collier “bought” his bride on the internet, and she had undergone a sex change.
Postings in an internet forum used by expat Brits claimed to be Collier.
One said: “I paid for my wife and then moved to Kusadasi in my rented apartment.”
The blogger added that Julia “used to be a bloke”.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are aware that a British national was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment in Turkey on August 6.
“We will continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family here in the UK.”
A friend of Collier, who did not want to be named, said the couple had been married for a number of years, but had no children.
She said: “Chris went out to Turkey to make a new start over 10 years ago.
“Julia was just the nicest girl you could ever meet.
“She was a singer, and she used to perform at the Korumar Hotel in Kusadasi. That is where they met.
“I found out what had happened from a mutual friend in Turkey. I was really shocked when I heard.”
A friend of Collier’s mother added: “I know Chris’s mum, she is a lovely lady and it is a shame the family have been put through this.
“He hasn’t been in England for a long time but the news of his prison term it is still a shock to the community where he used to live.”