A murder mystery

Here is the scenario: A newlywed Hindu couple on a dream honeymoon in South Africa. On a sightseeing trip they make a detour to a notorious part of town. The car is hijacked by bad guys. Later, the man is discovered alive and apparently unharmed, but his bride's body has been dumped by the roadside. Suspicion has fallen on the husband because the taxi driver has claimed he was paid by the husband to set up the hijack and the killing of his wife.

Those are the facts. The rest is at present, conjecture. I am not a detective but...

I'll go for motive first and why this was not necessarily a random and everyday murder. The defendant is described as a millionaire. Further investigation reveals his company was heavily in debt, to the tune of £4.1 million (estimates vary and one report put the figure at £6 million). Could money be the motive? Hindu marriages still attract the payment of a dowry, though the practice is frowned upon. Was a dowry paid? Did the defendant insure the life of his bride? Certainly, the defendant badly needed money.

But given the complex logic of the murdering mind it would be unwise at this stage to rule out other motives that may come to light as a result of further investigation and interviewing of the defendant.

The cab driver's tesitmony is here.

Next we come to the extraordinary sequence of events. Picture the scene, as you would if it was you or I involved. If it became clear that my wife and I were to be separated, I like to think I would put up some sort of a fight. The defendant did not. He was released from the car unharmed. In a real situation everybody would be panicky and hyper. I cannot imagine escaping from this unscathed. Besides, if the intention of the hijackers was robbery and murder, why leave a key witness alive? Why murder one and not the other? Either you rob them and let them go, or kill them both. At the very least you would expect the husband to have incurred some sort of injury. He did not escape from the car, he apparently got out. If it was me you would have had to tear my wife from my arms and do me damage in order to get away with this. No sane man would walk away unhurt.

So there it is, or at least some of what I have been able to glean from reports. No doubt more will come out. I ask members of the jury, what sane loving husband would walk away from his beautiful wife without some struggle? Can you believe the testimony of the cab driver who tells us that the defendant ordered the murder? Could a motive be the defendant's considerable debts? Why did the killers murder the wife and not the husband? If the plan was robbery, why not divest the couple of their valuables and dump them both. Why did the defendant change his plans and ask the taxi driver to visit a restaurant he knew to be closed, in a dangerous part of town? Why did the defendant instruct Max Clifford to handle the publicity? There are only two reasons why people go to a publicist - either to keep them out of the news, or in it, for a lot of money.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I suggest to you that there is only one verdict you can reach given the compelling facts of this case.


Richard said...

Not sure this is 'gentlemanly' (in the juridical sense), but here goes, with a slightly different angle:

My first thought is that no man in his right mind, having wooed and won such a fabulously beautiful woman, would want to see her destroyed. Later in the marriage, after things have gone wrong, possibly - but on the honeymoon? Surely not. So it's random murder by persons unknown, or it's a hell of a lot murkier than we thought (I didn't know about the man's debts before).

My second thought is a little stark, but bear with me. It struck me as curious that there were no signs of sexual assault on the woman. A petty thief or thug, and a beautiful kidnappee - he's not going to miss that kind of opportunity. The fact that nothing of the kind happened (at least as far as the media have told us) speaks of a professional hit. Those people don't mix business with pleasure.

One possibility is a ransom sting that went wrong (although the lack of sexual assault speaks against that, again - these things are never spoken about afterwards, but I suspect it goes on a lot more than we know in these cases). But then why was she killed so quickly, within a matter of hours? A demand for ransom will surely involve a matter of days for a response and a settlement.

An intriguing case indeed. Presumably the evidence, one way or another, will come out as time goes by. But for now, it's a mystery - although, like you, I have my suspicions.

Richard said...

Can't sleep, so I've been doing a bit of reading wound. One thing I said was incorrect: apparently (according to the Sunday Times) the woman was in a state of "partial undress", and the theory is that she was shot during an argument between the three Africans about whather to rape her. That sounds slightly more believable. Another thing is the unanimity of the SA press and politicians over the man's assumed guilt, and that this was therefore *not* another example of SA's violent gang culture - there's the economic and tourist angle to consider, too.

Murky indeed.

Richard said...

Reading *round*.


Jim Baxter said...

Sub judice chaps, sub judice. Beware.

Richard said...

Fair point, although I don't think there are any specific allegations here, just speculative comment on a public-domain media topic.

But we should be careful, yes.

Jim Baxter said...

This is one restriction on freedom of speech that I happen to agree with. Witness the trial by media that goes in the US and vomit.

Pub talk is one thing (I prefer a rubber of whist myself) but the printed word, even on a blog, is something else.

I wouldn't want to be reading about HMA vs Weasel over my Buckfast.

HMA? Yes. HMA. Regina don't dirty her mitts up norf ere.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Ah Jim, I see you are being careful. Given that the defendant is not on trial in the UK or the EU I would have thought that the sub judice rules do not apply. The extradition proceedings are merely a matter of a review of the evidence given by South Africa in its submission and not about establishing guilt, but grounds for extradition.

And also, as Richard points out most of this post is public domain and fact and takes the form of questions, not accusations. Of course I may be wrong, in which case I shall be careful too.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

for the record, I have read this:
I am trying to establish whether there is a chance of me coming under this, but I am sceptical.

For contempt there has to be
"a substantial risk that the course of justice in the relevant proceedings would be seriously impeded or prejudiced". Not likely, since it is clear that the defendant is already under lock and key at the behest of the government of South Africa. He is not under suspicion in the UK

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Further, I understand that, under the terms we have, the government of South Africa does not need to establish a Prima Facie case, it simply has to file the relevant papers. Therefore I cannot influence any outcome since the outcome is already de facto. The defendant will be extradited.

Jim said...

I think the problem is that we're looking at the story through a Western set of ideals. You can see this effect by comparing the views of the murdered ladies father who wanted the defendant back in South Africa last week and Max Cliffords view that he'd looked in the mans eyes and knew he was innocent.

Jim Baxter said...

It's usually best not to mess with m'learned friends WW, especially on the nioeties.

But, fear and loathing aside,
there is another point of course, and here, as usual, I have to get pompous and po-faced on all your asses, crack wise about your mommas, etc.. It's wrong, wrong when it comes to the printed (electronic) word that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. If others want to get down and dirty that's up to them. Leave it to due process. Respect the principle, if not always the outcome.

End of high moral tone.

John Lennon was a prat, a nasty piece of work. His home town (Lennongrad) has no equal when it comes to the mawkish aggrandisement of squalor.

There. I feel better already.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Point taken Jim. I suspect you have a lot more to say about this, and it would be very interesting. Provided you don't get too personal with yourself.

To be honest I had not considered that this was gutter press behaviour and on reflection, I agree with you. I have considered taking the post down, not for reasons of legality, but for those you cited - of allowing due process.

Jim said...

I'm thankful for John Lennon. His songs brightened up my bleak upbringing on a grey council estate. I wasn't intererested in politics , just escapism so knew nothing of his world views.
Liverpool renamed their airport to John Lennon which is quite ironic since it's the first place he headed for when he had enough money to escape Liverpool.

Jim said...

oops wrong thread :)

Jim Baxter said...


I wouldn't suggest taking it down (I'd like to see anybody try to tell you how to run your blog).

But you might edit it down a bit. The yellow press think nothing in this country of insinuation when they think they have someone in their sights - witness those on the periphery of the McCann story and the nasty stuff we were fed about their backgrounds all of which evaporated except in the lives of those involved - but they'd be sued to Tuesday if they tried what you've done.

We musn't take ourselves too seriously of course. This is, after all, an elite blog (elite is so much better a word than 'obscure', don't you think?). Whatever you do - leave my remark about Lennongrad please. I'm pleased with that.

Richard said...

Heh - been there, done that.

Jim B (if there are two): I wholeheartedly agree with you about trial by media, and the US experience. For the same reasons I am utterly against televising court proceedings. But there is a big difference between words and actions calculated to interfere with justice, and an online discussion which merely muses around known facts. If that were actionable, you'd have to close down most of the internet.

Point taken, though. We need to be careful to discuss and speculate reasonably, not allege or accuse.

Richard said...

Never mind wrong thread, I share your sentiments and have blogged thus here. It's only a re-hash of the comments I made on this blog, but I needed to share.

Richard said...

"Lennongrad" - love it.