Hong Kong judge tells jury to put aside emotions for ruling on Rurik Jutting double murder trial
The dreadfulness of the crime or sympathy towards the victims – including what the media has reported – should not influence verdict, says judge
A judge told the jury to put aside their emotions and disgust yesterday when considering the case of British banker Rurik Jutting, accused of the savage, drug-fuelled murders of two Indonesian women two years ago.
Deputy High Court judge Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore explained on Monday that an alternate verdict for Rurik Jutting, 31, lies in manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, if his lawyers can prove that – more likely than not – he was suffering from mental disorders that substantially impaired his control at the time of the 2014 killings.
Jutting has admitted he unlawfully killed Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, but denied they were murders.
The nine-strong jury of four women and five men is expected to retire on Monday to deliberate on the verdicts, after the judge delivers his final direction.
Stuart-Moore has directed the jury not to allow the dreadfulness of the crime or sympathy towards the victims to colour their judgement, as the case hinged on whether Jutting’s mental responsibility was substantially impaired when he carried out the killings.
“The point that he has an appalling private life is neither here nor there,” he told the jury.
“You must approach this with intellectual honesty, not coloured by passion or disgust towards the dreadful acts that the defendant has admitted to.”
He also reminded jurors that it was an important part of their duty to focus on what they heard in the courtroom.
“You can only decide this case on what you’ve heard or seen in this courtroom, nothing else,” Stuart-Moore said. “Please don’t look at what the TV, radio or newspapers are reporting.”
He further advised the jury to return the same verdict on both counts as he explained that the two charges were only four to five days apart, so if Jutting was found substantially impaired on the first count, the same should apply to the second.
To find Jutting guilty on each count of murder, the judge said the jury be beyond reasonable doubt that there is proof the defendant committed the acts causing the women’s deaths, the killing was unlawful, and that the defendant had either intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm at the time.
Alternatively, a verdict of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility requires that the defence prove that Jutting was suffering from mental disorders at the time, therefore affecting his understanding, judgement, willpower and self-control.
The defence does not have to prove that Jutting’s mental disorder was the only cause, but it must show that more likely than not, his condition arose from an inherent factor or was induced by disease or injury, therefore substantially impairing his sense of responsibility.
The court previously heard from both prosecution and defence psychiatrists that Jutting was suffering from alcohol and cocaine use disorders, but they disagreed on whether those disorders had substantially impaired Jutting’s ability to control himself.