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Man guilty of family 'massacre'

A businessman who "massacred" a family of four has finally been brought to justice after a series of police mistakes allowed him to go on the run for more than a year.

Anxiang Du, 54, stabbed Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Jifeng "Jeff" Ding, his wife Ge "Helen" Chui, and their two daughters, Xing "Nancy" 18, and Alice, 12, to death on April 29, 2011, in revenge after losing a 10-year legal battle.

Today a jury of eight women and four men took just over three hours to unanimously convict him of four counts of murder following a two-week trial at Northampton Crown Court.

Du, who had denied the murders, looked down in the dock as the verdicts were read out.

The court heard that the four bodies were not discovered at the Dings' home in Wootton, Northamptonshire, until two days after the murders.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission found Northamptonshire Police had mishandled a 999 call received on the day of the killings, resulting in officers being sent to the wrong address and the call being closed prematurely.

Police only discovered the bodies on May 1, after a neighbour reported seeing a body laid on the floor through a back window of the property.

Members of the jury wiped away tears as they were played a recording of the 999 call, made from Alice Ding's mobile phone at 3.32pm on the day of the killings, during the trial.

The screams of both girls could be heard on the call before the line went dead.

The IPCC investigation concluded: "Had police used more detailed checks and a mapping system available to them, the need for a subscriber check would have been established; the correct address in Pioneer Close would have been identified and in all likelihood attended by officers within minutes."

Speaking at a media briefing at Northamptonshire Police headquarters, Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Tom Davies, from Northamptonshire Police, admitted they will "never know" what may have happened had the call been handled correctly.

The force said it was "unlikely" the Ding family could have been saved, but that it was possible Du could have still been at the address if officers had been sent to the right address.

It has also emerged that officers from Northamptonshire Police missed the bodies after they were sent to the Dings' address on the morning of May 1 - just hours before the neighbour reported his grim find.

West Midlands Police asked the force to visit the Dings after Mr Du's wife Can Chen reported her husband as missing on April 30 and mentioned a dispute between the two families.

The officers visited the Dings' house at 8.10am on May 1 but when there was no reply, they simply posted a card through the door and left, unaware of the four bodies that lay inside.

Meanwhile Du had already fled the country - having left the country less than 24 hours after carrying out the cold-blooded murders.

He had travelled to London overnight and boarded the 8am coach from London Victoria to Paris Gallieni on April 30.

From Paris, where his passport was not checked, he travelled to Algeciras in Spain where he caught the ferry to Tangier in Morocco.

Following an international manhunt launched by police after the discovery of the bodies, Du was finally arrested in the city last July - after 14 months on the run.

Lengthy negotiations followed between the UK and Moroccan authorities before he was extradited back to the UK in February this year to face the four charges of murder.

Du had claimed he should be convicted of manslaughter on the basis of either diminished responsibility or loss of control.

During the trial, prosecutors told jurors Du, of Witnell Road, Coventry, was "a man on a mission" on the day of the killings.

He had been left "angry, humiliated and facing financial ruin" after losing a 10-year legal battle over a Chinese herbal medicine business he and his wife had owned with the Dings. The court heard the loss had left him owing £88,000 in court costs.

Prosecutor William Harbage QC told the jury an injunction served on Du the night before, preventing him from dissipating his assets, had been the "catalyst" for the murders.

Du made a plan and "carried it out with ruthless efficiency", Mr Harbage told the court.

On the day of the royal wedding in 2011, Du travelled to the Dings' four-bedroom home in Pioneer Close armed with a kitchen knife and his passport to exact revenge after leaving a farewell note for his wife at their shop in Birmingham.

He knifed Mr and Mrs Ding multiple times, leaving them for dead in the kitchen, then, with their blood on his hands, he went upstairs and slaughtered their two daughters Alice and Nancy who he found cowering in a bedroom.

Post mortem tests showed that Mr Ding had been stabbed 23 times, Mrs Ding 13 times, Nancy had 11 stab wounds, and Alice had four.

Du then made his getaway in the Dings' silver Corsa - driving through the night to London. Mr Harbage told jurors: "This was a considered act of revenge executed in an unbelievably calm and cold-blooded manner.

"He planned to kill, he intended to kill; he did kill - four times. This is murder, nothing less."

Following today's verdicts, Judge Mr Justice Flaux, said: "Anxiang Du, you have been found guilty of four counts of murder of Jifeng Ding, Helen Ding, Xing Ding and Alice Ding.

"No doubt your counsel will have explained that there is only one sentence I can pass for this and I will sentence you tomorrow at 1pm".

Addressing members of the Ding family, who had been in court for the trial, Mr Flaux said: "I have observed the dignified way in which you have conducted yourselves throughout a trial which must have been truly horrendous for you.

"I know nothing I can say can assuage the pain of the deaths of your sister and daughter but I just hope at least the fact that the man responsible for the deaths has been brought to justice will provide you with some comfort."

Speaking outside court after the verdicts, Helen Ding's father, Zuyao Cui, said on behalf of the family: "Anxiang Du cold-bloodedly killed the whole of the Ding family and took away four lives. During the whole trial we listened with deep sorrow and pain.

"Finally today the verdict is murder. Anxiang Du deserves what he receives, justice has been served, we can know say our piece to our families in heaven.

"We, as the victims' family, would like very much to praise DCI Tom Davies from Northamptonshire Police and his team's hard work.

"They have overcome many obstacles and challenges, including dealing with Anxiang Du's cunning moves. They faced pressure regarding the mishandling of the 999 call and international law restraints.

"They have succeeded in capturing Anxiang Du and have achieved the correct verdict. We respectfully thank the judge and the prosecutor, Mr Harbage, and the Crown Prosecution Service who have used the evidence to convict Anxiang Du.

"We would like to thank the Ding family's neighbours, friends, media, Victim Support, schools, the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Association, who have all provided support and care for us.

"The investigation team were our family working on our behalf and we recognise and appreciate that."

Following the verdicts, Mr Davies said: "Today we've seen justice done. This was a heinous crime committed by a man who knew what he was doing and went with a plan to kill an entire family in cold blood.

"The outcome today is a welcome relief for the family and friends of the Dings who can now rest in the knowledge that the man responsible for the murders of the family will likely face the rest of his life in prison.

"Whilst the result today has been successful, we remain sorrowful and cannot lose sight of the fact that a family, including two very talented young girls, had their lives tragically taken away from them.

"I would like to praise and thank Jeff and Helen's families in China and the US, and the friends of the family in England, for their faith and support throughout the inquiry.

"I would also like to thank the media for their support in reporting this case and keeping the public informed throughout the investigation and trial.

"I would also like to praise the investigation team for their hard work, dedication and commitment to ensure Anxiang Du would face justice for the murders of Jeff, Helen, Nancy and Alice."

Mr Flaux remanded Du in custody. He will be sentenced at Northampton Crown Court at 1pm tomorrow .


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