Hong Kong: Briton makes first public appearance since he was jailed for life for gruesome killings of two Indonesian women in Hong Kong.
Rurik Jutting, the British banker jailed for life for the gruesome killings of two Indonesian women in Hong Kong, was back in court on Tuesday for an appeal, with his lawyers arguing that a trial judge had misdirected the jury on their client’s 'abnormal mind'.
While having an 'abnormality of mind' could have stood as a defence for the Briton during the trial last year, then presiding judge Michael Stuart-Moore had turned to the jury and invited them to consider whether the banker had a narcissistic personality disorder and a sexual sadism disorder, Gerard McCoy SC, his new barrister, told the court.
During the trial, Jutting admitted to killing the two women on the basis of manslaughter, pleading not guilty to murder. He said his mental conditions had impeded his judgment and claimed “diminished responsibility”.
McCoy argued that while disorders could be the reason one had an abnormal mind, one could have an abnormal mind without a disorder. "The case turned to the word ‘disorder’," he said, commenting on the effect of the direction.
The counsel argued this became a problem as experts testifying at the trial, who had not all concluded the banker had disorders, all arrived at the opinion Jutting had an abnormality of the mind.
The experts found the Cambridge graduate showed traits of the two disorders, which fell far outside the normal range of an ordinary person.
As a result of the judge’s direction, McCoy said, the jurors were invited to consider whether Jutting had disorders rather than decide whether those traits constituted an 'abnormality of the mind' – the thrust of his case which, if successful, would reduce his murder conviction to a manslaughter one.
"This is an extremely serious error," the lawyer said, as stated South China Morning Post, Tuesday 12 December 2017.
McCoy also complained that the trial judge had 'very unfairly' criticised the defence’s two leading expert witnesses before the jury. They were psychologist Derek Perkins and forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Latham.
The counsel said it was in law not permissible for an expert giving testimony to give their opinion on whether an 'abnormality of mind' had substantially affected a defendant – a matter left purely to the jury. The two defence witnesses had played by the rules, he said, only to be criticised by the judge for not giving an answer to the 'ultimate issue' when he summed up the case.
The professionalism of the experts, McCoy said, “proved to be the downfall”.
Wearing a light blue shirt, the bespectacled Jutting, 32, leaned forward and rested his arms on a desk in the dock as he watched the proceedings, fiddling with the court documents he had brought with him from time to time.
This was his first public appearance since he was jailed for life last year. When he stood trial a year ago, the once 91kg (200-pound) expatriate, who had indulged in a lifestyle of drug and alcohol abuse while in Hong Kong, stunned many when he turned up in the dock appearing to be as fit as – if not fitter than – the corrections officers who escorted him.
His tremendous weight loss appeared to have begun when he was remanded into custody as a suspect after the murders in 2014.
The slimmer version of Jutting, his erstwhile curly locks shaved bald, prompted the local press at the time to compare him with American actor Wentworth Miller, who played Michael Scofield in the popular escape drama Prison Break.
Jutting was jailed for life by Stuart-Moore on November 8 last year, the same day he was convicted.
A nine-member jury unanimously found the former banker guilty of murdering Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, at his Wan Chai flat between late October and early November 2014.
The chilling murders began with Jutting offering both women money to have sex. Fuelled by cocaine and alcohol, prosecutors told the court, he 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, capturing the killing on film, around October 27.
Five days later, he took Seneng back to his flat and cut her throat too. The Post learned that the former Bank of America Merrill Lynch employee’s family members had visited him after he was given a life sentence.
His parents, Graham and Helen Jutting, were rarely seen in the spotlight of the press and had not appeared in the public gallery to support their son during the trial. Media reports said they had divorced since Jutting was jailed.
McCoy, who represented Jutting on Tuesday – replacing Tim Owen QC, his British barrister at the trial – was joined on the defence bench by Tim Parker.
They appeared before appeal court vice-president Mr Justice Michael Lunn, Justice of Appeal Andrew Macrae and Court of First Instance judge Kevin Zervos.