Rurik Jutting, British banker jailed over Hong Kong double murder, to appeal conviction
Former high-flyer in U-turn after telling court he would not appeal convictions, for murders of two Indonesian women
A British banker serving a life sentence in Hong Kong for the gruesome murders of two Indonesian women is appealing against his conviction, in a startling turnaround to a case that made international headlines.
Rurik Jutting told the court, when he was sentenced, that he had no plan to appeal his conviction over the 2014 killings. But his lawyer, Michael Vidler, confirmed a Post report on Wednesday that the Cambridge graduate lodged his appeal back in May.
Vidler said the appeal would focus on “certain aspects of the deputy judge’s directions to the jury” and expert testimony that the court had heard.
Jutting’s legal team will present its arguments at a Court of Appeal hearing on December 12.
Jutting was jailed in November for killing Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26. A nine-member jury unanimously found him guilty of double murder, after a trial notable for the deluge of gruesome details about his brutal acts of mutilation on the women.
Jutting had offered to pay the women for sex, but ended up hacking both to death in separate attacks over several days.
During the trial last year, deputy judge Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore told the jury that Jutting could be found guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, if his lawyers could prove he was most likely suffering from mental disorders at the time of the murders.
University of Hong Kong associate law dean Simon Young Ngai-man said “nothing struck me at the time” as a possible misdirection.
Young’s fellow HKU law scholar, Eric Cheung Tat-ming, said it was “not an easy task” for a judge to do a proper summing-up, during which the jury was told the conditions required to deliver certain verdicts.
“If a trial judge made a mistake, or misdirection to the jury, which may affect the safety of the conviction, then that would be grounds for appeal,” he said.
The appeal contrasts sharply with the remorse Jutting expressed at the end of the trial.
In a statement read out in court, the former high-flyer at Bank of America Merrill Lynch pledged not to oppose the verdict of his “attentive” jurors, accepting that a life sentence would be “just and appropriate”.
Jutting is serving a life sentence at the maximum-security Stanley Prison, in the south of Hong Kong Island.
In Hong Kong, a manslaughter conviction can also mean life behind bars, but Cheung said it was “very rare” for the court to impose the maximum sentence. If Jutting’s appeal is successful, his current life sentence is most likely to be reduced to a fixed jail term.
Jutting killed the two women in his Wan Chai flat in October and November 2014.
Fuelled by cocaine and alcohol, he tortured Sumarti for three days with, prosecutors told the court, “increasingly cruel acts of violence using his belt, sex toys, a pair of pliers and his fists” until he eventually slit her throat, capturing the killing on film, around October 27. Five days later, he took Seneng back to his flat and cut her throat too.
During the trial, he admitted killing the women, but claimed he was suffering from multiple mental disorders that substantially impaired his self-control.
His barrister argued unsuccessfully that Jutting should be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.
Indonesian woman’s death in Hong Kong double murder leaves loved ones without a daughter, a sister, a mother
Before he was jailed, Jutting wrote in his statement: “The evil I have inflicted can never be remedied by me in words or actions.
“Nevertheless for whatever it may be worth, to Sumarti Ningsih’s family and friends, to Seneng Mujiasih’s family and friends, I am sorry. I am sorry beyond words.”
But the judge was not moved by it.
“Let no one be fooled by the defendant’s superficial charm. [He] has not shown a shred of remorse,” he said.