Federal Court upholds death sentence for fishmonger in British students’ murder case

Kuching Court Complex (File Photo)

By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, May 14: The Federal Court today upheld the death sentence of a fishmonger convicted of murdering two British medical students a decade ago.

The three-judge panel, comprising Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang, Datuk Nordin Hassan, and Datuk Hanipah Farikullah, unanimously ruled that Zulkipli Abdullah’s appeal lacked merit.

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Reading the unanimous decision, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang stated that, based on the overall evidence, the court found Zulkipli’s conviction for the murders to be sound.

Zulkipli, a 33-year-old from Kampung Gersik, had appealed against the High Court’s decision on March 31, 2015, which sentenced him to death for the murders of Aidan Brunger, 23, and Neil Dalton, 22.

The crime occurred near Jalan Abell between 4.10am and 4.15am on Aug 6, 2014.

He was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which mandates a death sentence or a prison term ranging from 30 to 40 years, along with a minimum of 12 strokes of the cane if the death penalty is not imposed.

Defense lawyer Candida Entri, appointed by the court, argued for the death sentence to be commuted to imprisonment of 30 to 40 years.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Asmah Musa urged the court to maintain the death sentence, citing public safety concerns and the potential for the accused to reoffend, as well as justice for the victims’ families.

The case drew significant media attention due to Sarawak’s cultural diversity and its appeal to foreign tourists.

According to case facts, on the night of the incident, after returning from a bar in Batu 3, Zulkipli and three friends drove around the area looking for prostitutes.

Failing to find any, they went to a hotel where they saw the two British students moving a table.

Zulkipli approached them, but the students fled, prompting Zulkipli to chase them unsuccessfully. He then rejoined his friends in the car and continued searching for prostitutes in the Padungan area.

Later, the group encountered the two students again near a bus station. Zulkipli, expressing a desire to test his strength in a fight, was restrained by a friend but managed to approach Aidan and instigate a confrontation, punching him in the face.

When Neil intervened, pushing Zulkipli, he became enraged and pulled out a folding knife, stabbing Aidan until he collapsed. Neil attempted to flee but was also fatally stabbed.

Aidan was found dead at a bus station, while Neil’s body was discovered on a nearby sidewalk.

A police report led to an investigation, resulting in Zulkipli’s arrest on the same day. — DayakDaily

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