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1997 - New Years- Cheryl Lewis noticed that her ring was missing. She'd looked everywhere for
the blue topaz and diamond ring, but it was gone. It was more than valuable,
she prized the ring for its sentimental value as it had been bequeathed to her by
her deceased mother. She knew she was always careful with the ring and it
wasn't likely that she'd lost it during their holiday in Wales. It had to have been
taken. Cheryl's doubts about her partner John Allan had been in the back of her
mind for some time, but now they came straight to the forefront.
Cheryl places an advertisment in the newspaper and to her shock she receives in
return a ransom note for the ring. The person sending the note demands £2,150
for the return of the ring. Cheryl wants the ring back so she pays and the ring is
The ring's disappearance was the beginning of the end of Cheryl's relationship with John Allan.
But John Allan had already been planning Cheryl's end.
Photo: Cheryl Lesley Lewis
Cheryl Lewis was a senior partner in her Liverpool law firm at the time of her death.
Detective Sergeant Steve Moore "John Allan is a psychopath. He thinks he is better and superior
to everybody else. There were women who were for business and there were women who were for pleasure. He is a very dangerous man."
Detective Superintendent Dave Smith (Merseyside Police) "Allan attracts women by flattering
them and making them feel like they are the centre of attention. as an ability to flatter women and attend to their every need. He opens car doors for them, has their drinks when they come home, cooks their meals and just pampers them. But in reality he has no respect for women."
JOHN ALLAN - CONMAN, FANTASIST, CONVICTED KILLER
Photo: John Allan
A compulsive liar, John Allan delights in spinning his fantasies to his new conquests. Depending upon his mood and the type of persona he planned to present to the "mark" he'd found, Allan would claim to be:
A former arms dealer in Africa.
A legitimate target for hitmen, drug dealers, arms runners or diamond smugglers.
A Secret Service Agent.
A diamond dealer.
Whatever story fed his massive ego.
1974 - Hatfield Polytechnic - John Allan meets and marries Jacqueline "Jackie" Millard. John and
Jacqueline obtain employment in the mining industry of Africa working as chemists. John
Allan has a peculiar hobby. He uses cyanide to kill butterflies.
1977- The marriage fails and John Allan and Jacqueline divorce.
1980 - John Allan meets and marries Iranian born Sima, a student. Sima (47) "He was so
charming and a very good listener." During their marriage they welcome three daughters
into the family. John Allan obtains employment in Zambia on a construction project.
1983 - Sima is driving to meet friends when bullets begin flying and she is shot in the arm.
John Allan tells his friends "The bullet was meant for me. We'll have to leave Africa."
Local news accounts report that John Allan is under arrest on suspicion of shooting
his wife and has been released on bail. Sima is in hospital recuperating.
5 months - John Allan makes himself scarce and disappears without a word.
Sima "Then, "out of the blue" John returned. Allan said it (the arrest) was mistaken identity.
No way had he done the shooting. I would have recognized him. Why would I carry on
living with a man who tried to shoot me?"
1990 - John Allan is friendly with his lawyer, Cheryl Lewis and her husband Graham Lowsby.
Graham Lowsby "He professed to be friends to us both. He knew there were difficulties
in the marriage, and he was supposedly helping us get through them."
However, John Allan is more than consulting, or consoling his lawyer, he's begun an affair with her.
1998 - John Allan remains an unemployed chemist but he and Sima, mostly Sima, have been
operating a printing business for some time.
A CHANGE OF RESIDENCE & MARITAL STATUS
1993 - John Allan divorces Sima. Sima is awarded 60% of her and John's printing business.
He immediately moves in with Cheryl Lewis. Although they are estranged, Cheryl and
Graham Lowsby do not divorce.
1993 - Cheryl Lewis draws up her will. It is properly signed and witnessed.
1996 - John Allan remains unemployed and subsists upon the generosity of Cheryl Lewis for
several years. He makes no attempt to gain employment as a chemist.
1997 - August - John Allan gets his hands on Cheryl's will and forges three new pages. He makes
himself the sole beneficiary of her £690,000 estate.
1997 - New Years - Upon their return from holiday in Wales, Cheryl discovers the blue topaz and
diamond ring is missing. She places an advertisement in the newspaper.
To her surprise, she receives a ransom demand of £2,150 for its return.
Cheryl pays the demand and receives her cherished ring back.
Mr. Eric Lewis (Cheryl's father and a retired solicitor) "I am convinced Allan was behind this and I also believe that this was the beginning of the end of their relationship. In the months leading up to her death, Cheryl became more distant. She was not her usual self when spoken to. We saw less of her. She realized then that he was a wrong 'un. But he persuaded her to go on this last holiday."
ONE LAST HOLIDAY
1998 - October - John Allan convinces Cheryl to accompany him on a trip to Egypt. The couple
set off for a week's holiday.
Two (2) days before the end of the week long holiday John Allan commits murder and
Cheryl Lewis dies.
The New Winter Palace in Luxor, Egypt. Room 508:
After a full day of shopping and sightseeing Cheryl is tired. John Allan coaxes her into drinking a nightcap. Unbeknownst to Cheryl, her life is now measured in minutes. Allan had already slipped sodium cyanide poison into her gin and tonic that he hands to her. The gin will mask the taste and Allan is confident Cheryl won't detect the poison. (She'd told him about losing her sense of smell in a vehicle accident long ago.)
Cheryl drinks the nightcap and shortly afterwards sweat begins pouring from her body and she feels as though she can barely breathe, she feels she is suffocating. Cheryl struggles to breathe.
She sees John standing there, staring, watching her agony, watching her die. Cheryl struggles to live.
Confident that Cheryl is close to death Allan calmly walks out of the room and begins his performance.
WITNESSES TO MURDER
Pamela Black (Marketing Representative from Minneapolis, U.S.A.) and her parents are checking into the hotel. Suddenly they see a disheveled and sweaty man rush into the hotel lobby and say
to the receptionist in an urgent tone "My wife needs a doctor. I think she's dying."
Pamela Black has been trained to administer first aid and she accompanies John Allan back to the room to see if she can assist in any way. When she reaches room 508 she finds a nude woman drenched in sweat, writhing, and foaming at the mouth.
Pamela Black "She was absolutely gray, and her toes were clenched. She had a weak pulse and she was going in and out of consciousness."
Heidi Rees, (Thomson Holiday Representative) "She was a horrible colour with blue showing through her suntan. Her eyes were open, she looked as if she was choking."
Pamela Black urges the Englishman to give the woman mouth to mouth rescusitation, unaware that the woman has been poisoned.
John Allan "I prefer to wait for a doctor."
Pamela Black "Tell her that you love her; keep her in the here and now." John Allan says nothing to Cheryl. Instead he paces back and forth at the foot of the bed.
Pamela Black notices a smell emanating from the woman's mouth. It is like nothing she's ever smelled before.
Heidi Rees " He seemed to relax as Ms Lewis neared death."
When Cheryl is being prepared to be taken to the hospital, John Allan declines to help Pamela Black and Heidi Rees gather Cheryl's clothing.
Cheryl Lewis, (43), beloved by her family and friends and colleagues, dies, murdered.
Mr. Eric Lewis, (Cheryl's father) insists upon Cheryl's body being shipped back to Liverpool, England for an autopsy. Her remains are prepared to be shipped home.
THE GRIEVING PARTNER
The very next morning, John Allan requests Heidi Rees join him in the reception area of the lobby. As soon as he sees her arrive, John Allan is on the phone, or appears to be. He ensures that Heidi Rees overhears him say into the telephone "They've got Cheryl, she's dead. You'd better go into hiding.
John Allan then tells Heidi Rees "I'm a British Government special agent in Africa. It's all my fault
(Cheryl's death) for things I have done in the past. I was a
mercenary, I did arms deals in the Middle East and I'm going to
release a book in two weeks' time that I've written, exposing the
names of all the arms dealers."
"If this has got anything to do with Warren I'll kill him, but forget you
heard me say that."
*(Cheryl Lewis had previously allowed her offices to be used by customs officers for surveillance upon infamous Liverpool drug dealer Curtis Warren (currently serving a jail term in the Netherlands.)
Pamela Black "We all thought, "This poor man." "He was acting very upset."
Cheryl Lewis's body is received at the coroner's office. The post mortem examination reveals Cheryl died from haemorrhaging within her stomach caused by a severe irritant. Small amounts of cyanide are found, but they are not thought to be of any real significance.
Sgt. Stephen Moore (Merseyside Police) "The pathologist was baffled. There was lots of smoke but no fire. Until we had a cause of death we didn't know if we were dealing with a murder or not."
LIFE AS USUAL
Within days of Cheryl's death, John Allan returns to Cheryl's home as if it is his own. He drives Cheryl's leased vehicle (a mercedes). He takes up with prostitutes, just as he has done throughout his relationship with Cheryl.
John Allan lines up his next "mark." Jennifer Hughes knew Cheryl Lewis through a golf club they both attended and John Allan is well aware that she is divorced and more importantly, wealthy.
One week after Cheryl's death John Allan ensures he is at Jennifer Hughes's hospital bed with flowers after she undergoes a minor operation. After her release from hospital Allan begins wooing her.
John Allan steals some of Cheryl's jewelry and sells the pieces to a jeweler. Within the same month, he takes a ring with five diamonds and a large diamond solitaire ring to Kaye's jewellers and sells the rings for £2,050. Allan also steals Cheryl's precious blue topaz diamond ring.
A few weeks later Allan presents Jennifer Hughes with a gold bracelet. The bracelet belonged to Cheryl, and she had worn it during the last days of her life in Egypt.
Julie Dalby is reading "The Wimbledon Poisoner" (book about a man who murders his wife using
thallium) and discusses it with John Allan. John Allan tells Dalby "There
are better things than that."
John Allan begins telling Cheryl's friends that Cheryl "was a heroin user, using the drug when she was stressed."
Judith (Cheryl's sister) "He told me that she (Cheryl) had possibly died of a heroin overdose."
SUSPICIONS & INVESTIGATIONS
Cheryl Lewis's family become even more suspicious of John Allan as they wind up Cheryl's legal affairs. Mr. Eric Lewis discovers that Cheryl's blue topaz and diamond ring is missing once again.
The family find Cheryl's will and immediately believe it to be a forgery as it leaves the bulk of her £490,000 estate to John Allan. The family contact the police who open an investigation into John Allan.
1998 - December - When pressed about Cheryl's leased vehicle John Allan reports it stolen.
Believing John Allan to be lying, Graham Lowsby begins searching for the car.
He finds it a few blocks from Cheryl's home. He notifies investigators.
Police process the vehilce and find a black plastic bag wedged into a
compartment. The bag contains more than enough cyanide to kill over 500
A search of Cheryl's company vehicle, which Allan had access to, uncovers 4
briquettes of sodium cyanide. One has an amount carved off of it.
Forensic Experts retest lab samples from Cheryl Lewis's autopsy.
John Allan is under police surveillance.
A CASE OF MURDER
1999 - January - 3 months after the original post mortem, the forensic test results show the levels
of cyanide in Cheryl Lewis' system is significant. There is no trace of heroin. The
coroner rules Cheryl Lewis's death was murder.
1999 - February - Jennifer Hughes is rushed to the hospital. She is suffering from "mysterious
and severe stomach pains." Tests for cyanide are inconclusive. She recovers
from her myserious ailment.
Fearing that Jennifer Hughes will be Allan's next victim, police move in and place Allan under arrest. They inform Jennifer of their suspicions.
Jennifer Hughes "I've been told I had a very lucky escape. I owe my life to the British police."
Two weeks from the date of Allan's arrest, the couple were to embark on a holiday... to Egypt.
Investigators speak to John Allan about the missing jewelry. Allan tells them that they had been
robbed of money and Cheryl's jewelry, stolen from their hotel room. Police recover only one ring and the bracelet Allan had given to Jennifer Hughes.
John Allan denies forging Cheryl Lewis's will. He denies murder. He claims "Cheryl had "suddenly collapsed in the hotel room." "I didn't kill Cheryl, I loved her."
Investigators search Cheryl's home where Allan was residing before his arrest. They find: pornography; print outs of racist jokes; that Allan frequented prostitutes during the time he was with Cheryl Lewis; John Allan had been responding to lonely hearts advertisements in newspapers.
1 day before the trial is to begin, detectives are informed by forensics that the stamp on the ransom letter contains John Allan's DNA.
2000 - Evidence is presented regarding the theft of Cheryl's ring as she and Allan holidayed in the
Lake Fyrnwy Hotel in Wales. The stencilled ransom letter and photocopies of £5 notes
totalling £2,150 are presented.
Pamela Black testifies in court as to John Allan's behaviour within the hotel room as Cheryl lay dying.
Photo: Pamela Black
Heidi Rees also testifies regarding John Allan's demeanor, actions and statements.
Forensic Expert testimony shows that if John Allan had given Cheryl mouth to mouth rescuscitation, he would have inhaled dangerous fumes formed when the cyanide mixed with stomach acid.
Testimony from police regarding the searches of the house and vehicles is presented with their findings.
Testimony is presented regarding Cheryl Lewis's will.
Mr. Eric Lewis "It was unthinkable that Cheryl would not think of her family in her will."
Sergeant Moore "His (John Allan) mistake was that the typeface he used wasn't quite the same."
Prosecutors "Allan had forged Lewis's 1993 will in an attempt to secure virtually all of her $690,000
estate. He preserves the original final page containing Cheryl's signature and the
signatures of two witnesses.He prints off three new pages and puts them on top of
the original back page, which had been signed and witnessed."
John Allan "I was in love with her (Cheryl); she (Cheryl) was in love with me. I would say towards
the end, the bond was getting closer.... We were making plans for the future."
CONVICTION & SENTENCING
John Allan is convicted of the cyanide poisoning murder of Cheryl Lesley Lewis.
Mrs. Justice Smith, presiding judge "This was a cruel and pre-meditated killing. In the privacy of your hotel room you abused the trust and confidence which Cheryl Lewis placed in you as her partner and in my view you tricked her into taking cyanide. You must then have watched her suffer until she was beyond making a complaint."
"I will recommend to the home secretary that you (John Allan) should stay in prison "for a very long time".
John Allan is sentenced to life in prison.
Detective Superintendent Dave Smith "I feel the sentence makes the community a great deal safer. He is a very dangerous man. We believe Jennifer Hughes was the next victim. We were convinced his arrest and conviction had prevented a potential serial killer from carrying out
Mr. Eric Lewis "I was always suspicious of Allan. He is an extremely devious and skilful manipulator and a very, very dangerous man. He's a confessed liar, a confessed forger. He's extremely devious. He's a skilful manipulator and a very, very dangerous man. I just want him to have his just deserts and as the law stands now we know what life means."
"Cheryl was a truly lovely person, a wonderful daughter who had not one ounce of bitterness or hate in her. I believe this cost her her life."
"I just cannot give you any reason as to what she saw in him. All the years they were together, I never saw them hold hands. I never saw them kiss. I never saw any outward show of love and affection between them."
"Despite all the years when I questioned just what Cheryl was doing with a man like Allan, I never imagined just how much danger my daughter was in."
"All we as a family wanted was justice for Cheryl and thank God justice prevailed. As we all know Allan was a self-confessed liar, forger and an evil man and of course he has been found guilty of committing the ultimate crime."
Graham Lowsby "He was very cocky, and I'm sure he thought he was going to get away with it. If you read a book about it, you'd find it in the library under fiction, because it's just unbelievable."
There was a feeling of euphoria over the verdict, but it doesn't alter the tragedy."
"In the end, Cheryl died an agonizing death, and it was just for money."