A FISHMONGER has been sentenced to death for murdering two “exceptional” British medical students from Newcastle University who had been working in a Malaysian hospital.
Aidan Brunger, from Kent, and Neil Dalton, from Ambergate in Derbyshire, were killed in the unprovoked attack in Sarawak on the island of Borneo in August last year.
The country’s high court heard during the trial that, before killing the two men, Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, had said he wanted to “test his strength” against bigger and taller foreigners.
The prosecutor also said that, after he stabbed the pair, he sniffed the blood on his hands and claimed it smelled nice. Zulkipli had denied stabbing them but the court ruled that his defence was merely an afterthought, with the attack outside a cafe in the early hours being entirely unprovoked.
Both victims, who were 22, had been working at a local hospital in Kuching, an area popular with backpackers.
Following the verdict, their parents put out a joint statement paying tribute to their sons and spoke of the devastation they have felt since their deaths.
They said: “Since Aidan and Neil were killed on 6 August 2014, our lives have been shattered.
“They were two exceptional young men with such promise – kind, funny and full of life. Their deaths have left their families and many good friends utterly devastated.
“Neil and Aidan were having a wonderful time in Borneo, working in Sarawak Hospital and also travelling around, seeing as much of the beautiful country as they could. Both boys said how very welcoming and friendly the people were.
“Our sons would soon have qualified as doctors. Their unprovoked and senseless murders as they were walking home after a night out with other medical students mean that Aidan and Neil will never have the chance to spend their lives caring for and helping others.
“They would have given so much to the world. We are so very proud of both of them and in what they achieved in their all too short lives.
“Although we are pleased that the man responsible for their murders has been held accountable, the guilty verdict does not bring our sons back.
“We would like to thank our families, friends and everyone who has helped us through these distressing times.”
At the time, Professor Jane Calvert, dean of undergraduate Studies for Newcastle University Medical School, said the fourth-year students had been highly committed and were both doing well.
“They were excellent students – they were doing really well with their studies, they were highly committed and coming back next year to work as doctors,” she said.
“Aidan was aspiring to do some medical research on his return; Neil was going straight into his final year and it’s such a tragic thing to occur.”
The death penalty is mandatory for murder in Malaysia.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS