British banker charged with murder in Hong Kong

Rurik Jutting, a former Bank of America employee, leaves the Eastern Magistrates Court in a prison van in Hong Kong, China
Lam Yik Fei | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A 29-year-old British banker appeared in a Hong Kong court on Monday charged with two counts of murder after police found the bodies of two women in his apartment, including one inside a suitcase on a balcony.

A court document said Rurik George Caton Jutting worked for Bank of America.The U.S. bank said that it had, until recently, an employee with the same name, but it declined to give further details.

Looking stony-faced and unshaven and wearing a black T-shirt and dark-rimmed glasses, Jutting told the court he understood both charges. The brief hearing was adjourned until Nov. 10, without Jutting entering a plea.

Jutting was arrested in the early hours of Saturday at his apartment in Wan Chai, a central city district known for its vibrant night life.

The charge sheet identified the woman in the suitcase as Sumarti Ningsih and said she had been killed on Oct. 27. The second woman, who was not identified, was killed on Nov. 1, the document said. It did not say how they were killed.

Local media described the two victims as prostitutes and said both had neck injuries, adding one was nearly decapitated. One of the women was Indonesian, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The grisly murders have shocked Hong Kong, a city with a low homicide rate. One of the victims was found in the suitcase, the other lying inside the apartment with wounds to her neck and buttocks, police have said.

Jutting had called police and asked them to investigate the case, police have also said.

Martyn Richmond, Jutting's duty lawyer, said his client had been denied contact with the British consulate and access to a solicitor of his choice prior to being interviewed.

Jutting had done up to seven police interviews over many hours, Richmond added.

Police declined to comment on Richmond's accusations. The British consulate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Britain's Foreign Office in London said on Saturday a British national had been arrested in Hong Kong, without specifying the nature of any suspected crime.

Shock in Hong Kong

A Linkedin account under Jutting's name said he had worked in structured equity finance and trading at Bank of America in Hong Kong since July 2013.

Before that, he had worked in the same department but in London.

The profile also said Jutting had worked in structured capital markets at Barclays between June 2008 and July 2010 and had studied at Cambridge University.

A spokesman for Barclays in Hong Kong said the bank was not immediately able to confirm if Jutting had worked for them.

According to people who were at Cambridge at the same time, Jutting attended Peterhouse, the oldest college, and was president of the Cambridge University History society. He was also a cross-country runner and a rower. Prior to Cambridge he went to Winchester College, one of Britain's most famous and oldest private schools.

His Facebook account showed pictures of Jutting including one with a young Asian woman. He was wearing a navy and white striped rugby shirt.

Jutting's most recent posts were on Oct. 31 to articles titled "Money does buy Happiness" and "Is 29 the perfect age."

The apartment where the bodies were found is on the 31st floor of a building popular with financial professionals, where average rents are about HK$30,000 (nearly $4,000) a month.

"It's very shocking because we never expected something like this to happen in Hong Kong, especially in the same building that I'm living in," said banker Mina Liu.

Another woman who lives down the corridor from the flat where the bodies were found said she had seldom seen anyone come and go from the apartment. Residents were woken up in the early hours of Saturday to loud banging and scores of police.

Wan Chai has been a popular haunt for foreign navies on rest and recreation over the decades.

There were 14 homicides in Hong Kong, a city of seven million people, between January and June, down from 56 in the same period last year, according to government crime statistics.

In one of Hong Kong's most talked-about killings, the so-called "milkshake murder", a Merrill Lynch banker was clubbed to death in 2003 by his wife, who drugged him beforehand by serving him a milkshake full of sleeping pills.