British double murderer Rurik Jutting has appeal bid dismissed by Hong Kong’s top court
Former banker was jailed for life for brutal killings of two Indonesian women in 2014
A British banker’s last-ditch attempt to appeal against his convictions for brutally murdering two Indonesian women in Hong Kong four years ago was thrown out by the city’s top court after eight minutes of deliberation on Thursday.
The decision left Rurik Jutting, 32, staring at the three Court of Final Appeal judges before correctional services officers escorted him back to maximum-security Stanley Prison, where he would continue life imprisonment.
Lawyers for the former Merrill Lynch banker had argued their client had been subjected to “substantial and grave injustice” in his 2016 trial, saying the judge misdirected the jury on his defence of diminished responsibility and erred in allowing psychiatrists to comment on his culpability.
But Justices Roberto Ribeiro, Robert Tang Kwok-ching and Joseph Fok followed the lower Court of Appeal, where the same criticisms had been raised, to dismiss Jutting’s application for leave to appeal.
“For reasons that will be provided, we do not consider these questions reasonably arguable,” Ribeiro announced after eight minutes of closed-door deliberations.
Jutting had previously declared that he “cannot and will not” object to the unanimous verdicts returned by the jury for what he did to Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, in his Wan Chai flat between late October and November 2014.
In a high-profile trial filled with grisly details, the court heard the Briton had tortured Sumarti for three days with “increasingly cruel acts of violence using his belt, sex toys, a pair of pliers and his fists”, until he eventually slit her throat on or about October 27. Five days later, he took Seneng back to his flat and cut her throat as well.
The Cambridge graduate said before his sentencing in November 2016 that life imprisonment would be “a just and appropriate judgment”, but went back on his assertion the following May and lodged his first appeal against his conviction on two counts of murder.
There was no dispute that the only issue that arose at trial was that of diminished responsibility, a defence Jutting had relied on after his psychiatrists found that he was suffering from alcohol abuse disorder, cocaine abuse disorder, sexual sadism disorder and narcissistic personality disorder at the time of the killings.
Such a diagnosis was partly supported by the two psychiatrists summoned by the prosecution, except that they did not think his traits of narcissistic personality amounted to a disorder, and only one of them agreed with the finding of a sexual sadism disorder.
Jutting’s counsel at the time, Tim Owen QC, had argued the killings were manslaughter because the abnormal state of his mind had substantially impaired his mental responsibility in his killings.
But that was rejected by the jury after four hours of deliberations.
On Thursday, Jutting’s counsel, Gerard McCoy SC, argued that the trial judge’s summing-up directions to the jury had “narrowed and contracted” his defence of diminished responsibility.
McCoy complained there was an inconsistency between the judge’s oral and written directions, and said jurors were led to consider that only a mental disorder would amount to an abnormality of the mind that could reduce his client’s culpability, when traits would suffice.
But Ribeiro countered there was no significant difference between traits and disorders in entitling Jutting to the defence.
“What the case turned on was whether or not there was impairment to reduce legal responsibility,” he said. “Your attempt to construct a stark difference between traits and disorders seems artificial.”
The top court will hand down a written judgment at a later date.