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British Banker Rurik Jutting Found Guilty in Hong Kong Murder Trial and Jailed for Life

9 minute read

Rurik Jutting, the 31-year-old British former banker who in the fall of 2014 tortured and murdered two Indonesian women in his luxury high-rise apartment in Hong Kong, has been found guilty of murder. He will be jailed for life.

Jutting, appearing healthier and many pounds lighter than he was when he was arrested just over two years ago, was stoic when the jury delivered its unanimous verdict in Hong Kong’s High Court on Tuesday afternoon. He had pleaded not guilty to murdering 23-year-old Sumarti Ningsih and 28-year-old Seneng Mujiasih, but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of “diminished responsibility.” His defense attempted to bolster this claim by pointing to various disorders that supposedly impacted Jutting’s capacity to act rationally: narcissistic personality disorder, cocaine-and-alcohol-abuse disorders, and sexual-sadism disorder.

A smattering of applause went around the public gallery of the courtroom when the jury’s foreman read the verdict.

Justice Michael Stuart-Moore said: “You get prison for life. That is all. You can go now, thank you.”

In a statement he wrote that was read by his barrister, Tim Owen, Jutting expressed remorse.

“As has been commented on throughout the hearings, my actions in the deaths of Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih in the days preceding the deaths was horrific, even by the standards of homicide trials,” Jutting wrote. “The nine jurors were attentive and thoughtful. They have delivered a verdict to which I cannot have any objection”

He said he remained “haunted daily” by the crimes.

“We have been made to dredge the very depths of depravity in the defendant’s descriptions of what he did in three days of torture,” Justice Stuart-Moore said after the jury was read. “He describes himself as evil and a monster. Neither description is adequate to bring home the horror of what he did.”

In a statement released yesterday, Seneng’s family stressed the financial hardship her death had caused. “Our family hope the perpetrator can be punished as heavily as possible,” the statement read.

The verdict marks the end of a two-week trial that was alternatively gruesome, awkward and tedious. It was, Justice Stuart-Moore said on the first day of the trial on Oct. 24, a particularly strange legal affair: a murder trial in which the most incriminating evidence — the iPhone footage shot by Jutting both leading up to and immediately after the killings — was willfully created by the defendant himself.

Indonesian migrant workers hold up placards during a vigil for slain colleagues Seneng Mujiasih and Sumarti Ningsih on the eve of the murder trial for British banker Rurik Jutting, in Hong Kong's Victoria Park on Oct. 23, 2016Tengku Bahar—AFP/Getty Images

It was in these videos that the nine members of jury became apprised of what happened on the 31st floor of the J Residence, a luxury apartment building in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district, during the last week of October 2014.

In the early hours of Oct. 25, Jutting left his apartment and made his way into the thick of Wan Chai, a bustling neighborhood famous for neon-lit bars with names like Club Bunny, where scantily clad girls linger out front.

There, he met Sumarti, a single mother who, in 2011, had left her infant son with family in Indonesia and came to find work in Hong Kong as a domestic helper — one of hundreds of thousands of such women in the former British colony, many of them from the Philippines and Indonesia. Like some of her peers, Sumarti occasionally moonlighted as a sex worker for extra income.

Jutting, who had been transferred by Bank of America Merrill Lynch from London to Hong Kong in the fall of 2013 had paid Ningsih for sex before. On that occasion, he had become so violent that she had offered to refund half his money if he would let her go home. Following his arrest, Jutting told police that to bring her home on the night of Oct. 25, he had to offer a particularly large sum to coerce her. He contacted her on his cell phone, in which she was saved simply as “Indo,” for Indonesian.

She consented, and together they returned to his apartment. By Jutting’s account, things escalated quickly.

“I made her get naked,” he said to his iPhone camera shortly after her death. “I held her throat, then she tried to force me off her. But there’s nothing she could do.”

For three days, he kept her prisoner. He said he bound her, beat her, violated her sexually, and at one point forced her to eat his excrement. He finally killed her by slitting her throat as she licked his toilet bowl.

After killing her, he dragged her body into his shower, and later shoved it into a suitcase he put on his balcony, and began to record the hours of monologue that two years later would be used to incriminate him. Heavily under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and sleep deprivation, he babbled about his cocaine addiction, his history of sadistic fantasies, and Sumarti herself.

“I learned more about that girl over three days than I have about people I’ve worked with for years,” he said to the camera. “She is — was — a remarkable person. Many of the finest people I’ve known have been prostitutes.”

British Banker Rurik Jutting To Appear In Court Over Murder Charges With Killing Two Women in Hong Kong
A police officer stands guard as a prison vehicle escorting Rurik Jutting, a former Bank of America Merrill Lynch employee, leaves the High Court in Hong Kong on Oct. 24, 2016Bloomberg/Getty Images

In the days that followed, Jutting continued to binge on cocaine and Red Bull as Sumarti’s body began to decay on his balcony. He did not leave his apartment, subsisting on Pizza Express delivery and spending “virtually every minute reading and watching pornography,” as he later told police. Eventually, he said, he “had a plan to torture.”

“I realized how much I enjoyed that combination of alcohol and cocaine and physical torture – it gave me a sense of enjoyment I’d never had with anything,” he later told police. “I knew I would do it again.”

Eventually, he left his apartment, going first to a sex shop in Lan Kwai Fong, a nightlife district near downtown that is popular with expatriates and tourists, to buy bondage rope and other items. On his way home, he stopped at a hardware store, purchasing nails, sandpaper and a blowtorch, which he planned to use for torture.

“Let’s be clear about these, I am going to use these to torture someone in the most inhumane way possible,” he said.

However, when he solicited Seneng on the night of Halloween, leaving his apartment and returning with her shortly after midnight, there was no prolonged period of torture, unlike with Sumarti. The court heard that Seneng began screaming after finding a knife on Jutting’s couch, prompting him to quickly cut her throat.

He was, at that point, reportedly delirious, hallucinating that police and “special forces” were outside his apartment, preparing to seize him. He eventually called 999, Hong Kong’s emergency hotline, and asked if he could surrender. The dispatcher evenly asked if they could instead send officers to his home, and he complied. He was arrested by dawn.

Jutting has spent the past two years in prison in Hong Kong, where he has been interviewed by several psychiatrists who have served as witnesses for the defense during the trial. On the stand, Dr. Richard Latham and Professor Derek Perkins have rendered a portrait of a man with incredibly high intelligence — he recorded an IQ score of 137 — but sadistic tendencies and a pathological narcissism that rendered him incapable of emotionally handling blows to his ego.

When, as an adolescent, he applied and was accepted to Winchester College, a prestigious boarding school in the U.K., he was reportedly devastated that he came sixth in the scholarship assessment, rather than first. Later, after graduating from Cambridge with a first-class degree in history but a second-class degree in law, he challenged university administrators regarding the latter, claiming the examiners “did not understand him well enough,” which Perkins attributed to an entrenched “sense of entitlement.”

Relatives and villagers carry the coffin of Sumarti Ningsih, one of two Indonesian women murdered by British banker Rurik Jutting in Hong Kong, during her funeral at Gandrungmangu village, in Cilacap, Indonesia's Central Java province, on Nov. 12, 2014Dida Nuswantara—AFP/Getty Images

After Cambridge, in 2008, he forewent plans to practice law and instead took a job at Barclays in London in the structured-capital-markets division, then moved to Bank of America Merrill Lynch in 2010. Around this time, the court heard, he began drinking excessively, going on long binges where he would solicit sex workers and do cocaine with them. (He would later admit that he had spent “more than a million dollars” on sex workers in the two years preceding the killings.)

His professional performance gradually began to suffer. In September 2013, Bank of America Merrill Lynch moved him from London to Hong Kong, allegedly to “get him out of the way” after an investigation into a dubious tax product he had tried to sell in Luxembourg, the court heard.

The defense’s expert witnesses inferred that it was the move to Hong Kong that precipitated his final mental collapse. He had no social life, instead spending his time drinking copious amounts of liquor and wine in his luxury residential tower and seeing sex workers from the neon-lit bars nearby. He traveled to the U.K. for a friend’s wedding in March 2014, where he reportedly did so much cocaine that he missed a work meeting in London. He blamed his absence on having HIV.

His physical and mental atrophy continued upon his return to Hong Kong, and in September 2014, he found a cocaine dealer of his own, who was named to the court simply as Marvin. Marvin, the court heard, was bringing Jutting massive sums of cocaine on a regular basis; the defendant claimed he was doing several grams in a day.

From there, his apparent decline into instability was rapid. He rarely went to work; when he did, he did so erratically, showing up only for short stretches. He later described his rage and humiliation when his boss send a junior employee to look for him at home. He spent his days watching and reading violent pornography that trafficked in themes like rape, kidnapping and torture.

The defense concedes that parole for Jutting is highly unlikely to impossible. Asked outside the courtroom if he was surprised by the verdict, Michael Vidler, Jutting’s attorney, simply shrugged. “The jury has spoken,” he said.

Justice Stuart-Moore said that if Jutting applied for transfer to a British prison, “the English authorities will know exactly the type of person they are dealing with.”

— With reporting by Yenni Kwok / Hong Kong

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