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12 November 2013, 15:50
Anxiang Du accused of murdering a family of four in Northampton has been in court on the first day of his murder trial.
The trial of a Chinese businessman accused of murdering a family of four in Northampton has begun today..
The Ding family were found stabbed to death at their home in Wootton in 2011, on the day of the Royal wedding.
Anxiang Du, who's 54 and from Coventry, has pleaded not guilty to four separate counts of murder relating to the deaths of Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Jifeng "Jeff" Ding, his wife, Ge "Helen" Chui, and their two daughters, Xing "Nancy" Ding 18, and Alice Ding, 12.
Du, who was formally arrested in February after being extradited to the UK from Morocco, is standing trial at Northampton Crown Court.
Opening the case for the prosecution at Northampton Crown Court, William Harbage QC told the jury of eight women and four men that Du armed himself with a kitchen knife and stabbed the family to death in their own home on April 29 2011.
Mr Harbage said: "The prosecution case is defendant, Anxiang Du, on the day of the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, on April 29th 2011, travelled to Northampton from his home in Coventry, via Birmingham, armed with a kitchen knife, and savagely stabbed to death firstly the two people, Mr and Mrs Ding, with whom he had been having a long-running legal dispute.
Not content with killing them, the mother and father, in the kitchen of their own home, he then went upstairs to find their two daughters, Nancy aged 18 and Alice aged 12, cowering in a bedroom.
He cold-bloodedly stabbed them to death as well.''
Mr Harbage told the court, which contained members of Mrs Ding's family who had travelled from China to be present for the trial, that each member of the family had sustained many wounds, some of which had penetrated the chest cavity causing fatal damage to the heart and lungs.
Du denies four counts of murder.
Mr Harbage said Du had carried out the killings in order to get revenge after a decade-long legal dispute with the Dings that left him with a large sum to pay in court costs, some #88,000.
On the 28th of April 2011, the day before the killings, he was served with an injunction to prevent him from dissipating his assets.
Du made a plan and carried it out with ruthless efficiency."
Mr Harbage told the court that Du, "having massacred the Ding family", stole their car and went in search of another man, Paul Delaney, who had become involved in the civil litigation and lived elsewhere in Northamptonshire.
Fortunately for Mr Delaney, Du did not find him" Mr Harbage told the court.
Du then fled; he drove to London where he took a coach to Paris, then travelled down through France and Spain to Algeciras on the Mediterranean coast where he took a boat to Morocco, from where he was brought back to the UK earlier this year, the court heard.
Mr Harbage told jurors there was no argument that Du was responsible for the killings but he would claim he had not intended them to happen.
"There is no dispute in this case that Du is the man responsible for these four tragic deaths, there is no dispute that he unlawfully killed all four members of the Ding family. Indeed, it was obvious from an early stage in the investigation that it was Du who did it, obvious from CCTV evidence of his movements and from forensic evidence, including his fingerprints found in blood at the scene.
That much is admitted. However, it is anticipated that Du may now claim that he should not be convicted of murder but should only be convicted of manslaughter on the basis of either diminished responsibility or loss of control.
These are two separate partial defences which, if they apply, reduce what would otherwise be murder to manslaughter.''
Mr Harbage told the court that the Dings, who lived in Pioneer Close in Wootton, were "hard-working, decent people of Chinese origin".
The jury heard that Mr Ding was a lecturer in polymer science at Manchester Metropolitan University while his wife was a businesswoman and translator.
Mr Harbage said the bodies of Mr and Mrs Ding were found downstairs in the kitchen, and Alice and Nancy were found dead in an upstairs bedroom - Alice on the bed and her sister on the floor.
Post-mortem examinations found that Mr Ding had been stabbed 23 times, Mrs Ding 13 times, Nancy had 11 stab wounds, and Alice had four.
Some of those were defence wounds, Mr Harbage said.
Jurors heard that the house was extensively bloodstained and a knife, believed to be the murder weapon, was later recovered by police in the kitchen.
Concluding his opening, Mr Harbage said Du was a "man on a mission" adding: "We invite you to conclude that this was a premeditated plan formed overnight after the service of the injunction. This was a considered act of revenge we say executed in an unbelievably calm and cold-blooded manner. He planned to kill; he intended to kill; he did kill - four times.''
Mr Harbage told the jury Du was diagnosed with depression in February 2011 and that he was prescribed pills but the prosecutor added: "It would not be surprising if Du did have some form of depression given what had happened to him in the civil litigation.
Even if he did have some form of depression it does not mean that he can avail himself of the defence of diminished responsibility. Depression does not explain what the defendant did.''