Businessman guilty of murdering Chinese family in Britain

LONDON (AFP) - A businessman who stabbed a Chinese family of four to death at their home in Britain was found guilty Wednesday of murdering them.

Du Anxiang, 54, was convicted by a jury at Northampton Crown Court in central England. He was to be sentenced on Thursday.

Du killed lecturer Ding Jifeng, 46, his wife Ge Chui, 47, and their daughters Xing, 18, and Alice, 12, at their home in the town on April 29, 2011.

The trial jury heard how Du "massacred" the Dings, his former business partners, in revenge after losing a 10-year legal battle over a Chinese herbal medicine business.

Du fled Britain, travelling through France and Spain to Morocco, where he was arrested in July 2012 after more than a year on the run. He was extradited in February.

"This was a brutal, shocking crime. Du Anxiang travelled to the Dings' home armed with a knife and killed the whole family," Steve Chappell of the Crown Prosecution Service said after the trial.

"This was an act of pre-meditated revenge and Du knew what he was doing.

"The Ding family were honest, hard-working and well-liked people. It is a tragedy that their lives were cut short in this way."

Du was left owing 88,000 pounds (S$178,000) from the legal battle and the night before the killings was served an injunction freezing his assets.

He wrote a farewell note to his wife before heading to the Dings' house with a knife, some cash and his passport.

He first attacked the couple, leaving them for dead in the kitchen before going upstairs and slaying their daughters, who were cowering in a bedroom.

Ding had been stabbed 23 times; his wife 13 times; Xing had 11 stab wounds, and Alice had four.

Jurors wept when they were played a frantic call to the emergency services made from Alice's mobile phone.

Officers were sent to the wrong address and their bodies were discovered two days later by a neighbour.

Du was eventually found in Tangiers, sleeping rough on some planks at a building site where he had been working in return for food and shelter. The site owner recognised his picture in a newspaper and informed the Moroccan police.

Du hails from Changsha, the capital of central Hunan province. He did not give evidence during the trial.

Mr Leighton Williams, from the British embassy in Morocco, said Du told him he regretted ever moving to Britain, had lost everything and had gone to see the Dings in a last-ditch attempt to resolve matters.

"All he told me was that his friend had just laughed in his face," he said, giving evidence.

"He just said 'I just went crazy' and at that time he became very emotional and broke down again."

Forensic psychiatrist Nigel Eastman said Du told him: "'If the Dings had apologised to me I probably would not have done that'."

Ding worked in the chemistry and environmental sciences division at Manchester Metropolitan University. His wife taught Mandarin part-time at a local business school.

Both were from Hangzhou, the capital of eastern China's Zhejiang province.

The couple were British passport holders and their daughters were born in Britain.

Speaking outside court, Ge Chui's father Cui Zuyao said on behalf of the family: "During the whole trial we listened with deep sorrow and pain.

"Finally today the verdict is murder. Du Anxiang deserves what he receives; justice has been served."