Robert Chalmers: Convicted double murderer who stored victims' bodies in wheelie bins dies in prison

A convicted murderer who kept the remains of his victims in a wheelie bin for over a year has died after suffering a bout of pneumonia.

Warning - readers may find the following article distressing

The Daily Record reported Robert Chalmers had been suffering with ill-health in prison before being taken to hospital with chest pain and shortness of breath where he died.

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Chalmers was jailed for a minimum of 23 years at his trial in 2011 after being convicted of murdering Samantha Wright in Edinburgh.

She was reported missing on her 25th birthday in January 2009 but hadn’t been in contact with her family for months. She was killed by Chalmers in June 2008 but her body wasn’t discovered until October 2009.

Police found the 24-year-old’s dismembered remains in a wheelie bin in the garden of Chalmers' Edinburgh home on Magdalene Drive.

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By the time her body was found pathologists said it was impossible to tell how she had been murdered, but it had to be "an act of violence".

During the trial a jury heard that Chalmers – known locally as Papa Smurf because of his white beard – stopped tending the garden so that bushes would grow to camouflage the green bin.

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Robert Chalmers was jailed for a minimum of 23 years at his trial in 2011 after being convicted of murdering Samantha Wright, left in Edinburgh. Photo: Lothian & Borders Police.

He rigged up his own security camera with monitors in the living room and bedroom to warn off intruders who might stumble on his secret.

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The father-of-11 also reportedly took to keeping a can of fly spray and air-freshener handy while he watched TV mere metres away from the corpse.

The trial heard that Ms Wright’s blood had soaked into a mattress in his spare room as he sliced off her right breast and tried to cut off her head.

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But instead of getting rid of all the bedding, Chalmers had simply flipped the mattress over.

Advocate depute John Scullion, prosecuting, suggested to the jury that Chalmers had lured Ms Wright to his home, hoping for sex, but had killed her when something went wrong.

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Ms Wright was described as a free-spirited "social butterfly" who was always keen to make new friends. She moved to the Capital in 2007 from her home in Stevenage after falling in love with it on a family holiday.

A friend of hers said she was a “really nice girl who liked talking to everyone” and when she disappeared they thought she had returned to England.

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Ms Wright was last seen at a Jobcentre in High Riggs on June 12, 2008. Following CCTV analysis police discovered footage from that day showing Ms Wright walking with an older man on Hanover Street.

The images led officers to Chalmers home where they undertook a search of the property on October 12, 2009.

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The 69-year-old had previously served nine years of a life sentence for a murder in Renfrewshire in December 1973.

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He stabbed his friend, William White, 47, after the pair had an argument at Mr White’s home in Johnstone. After being released on life licence Chalmers – a handyman and labourer who once worked making children's playgrounds – moved to Edinburgh.

A statement from the Scottish Prison Service confirmed: “Robert Chalmers, 69, a prisoner from HMP Edinburgh has died on 4 April 2022.

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"Police Scotland have been advised and the matter reported to the Procurator Fiscal. A Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held in due course.”

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