Wednesday 28 September 2016

BBC Eggheads star in court over alleged killing which he apparently confessed to in autobiography

Rachael Burnett

Published 22/09/2016 | 11:36

CJ de Mooi, former panellist on the BBC quiz show Eggheads, who has been arrested on a European arrest warrant under his real name Joseph Connagh for an alleged killing, Scotland Yard said. Photo: Hugh Macknight/PA Wire
CJ de Mooi, former panellist on the BBC quiz show Eggheads, who has been arrested on a European arrest warrant under his real name Joseph Connagh for an alleged killing, Scotland Yard said. Photo: Hugh Macknight/PA Wire
CJ De Mooi has been arrested on suspicion of murder

Eggheads star CJ de Mooi has been bailed after appearing in court over an alleged killing which he apparently confessed to in his autobiography.

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The former panellist on the BBC quiz show, who appeared in court under his real name Joseph Connagh, could face extradition to the Netherlands for allegations of murder, manslaughter and assault more than 20 years ago.

He said in his autobiography that he punched a man who approached him with a knife, then threw him into a canal in Amsterdam in 1988.

The 46-year-old was detained under a European arrest warrant on Wednesday at Heathrow Airport, after landing at Terminal 3 from a business trip in South Africa.

He appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court, wearing grey tracksuit bottoms, a green t-shirt and a hoodie.

De Mooi, who lives with his husband in Caldicot, Wales, is opposing his extradition and was released on bail to appear at the court on November 28 for an extradition hearing.

Prosecutor Brian Gibbins said: "The defendant appears before you today on a European arrest warrant issued by a Dutch prosecutor in Amsterdam."

He added: "This is an allegation relating to matters of manslaughter, murder, assault and assault by battery.

"It relates to an incident said to have taken place in 1988 in Amsterdam.

"It appears the defendant, a TV personality, wrote an autobiography. And in that autobiography it said that the defendant claimed that whilst living in Amsterdam in 1988 he may have killed a drug addict who was attempting to mug him by punching him and throwing him into a canal in Amsterdam.

"It is understood that person had a knife with him, it was said that the defendant punched his assailant square in the face, disarmed him and threw him in the canal.

"On the face of the warrant he is wanted for further questions."

Chris Stevens, representing de Mooi, said there was a "lot of missing information" from the warrant.

"The words were in his own book, the information provided in that book," he added.

"There doesn't appear to be a named victim in the warrant, date of birth or even an address where this matter took place."

He said the inquiry by the Dutch authorities was based on "something that might have happened" and which "could arguably be self defence".

Mr Stevens continued: "There isn't anything to suggest the Dutch authorities are in a position to charge him with this."

De Mooi was approached by Scotland Yard for questioning by Dutch police in February this year, the court was told.

He agreed to be questioned but only if it was "formally in an interview setting with the appropriate protection". He did not hear about the matter again, Mr Stevens said.

He added: "He has carried on with his life as normal, gone to pursue work and a career."

The aspiring actor was allegedly arrested at airport security on the way back from meeting a film agent in South Africa with his husband, who is a costume designer.

"To be pulled to one side as he was going through security was a shock to him and his husband," Mr Stevens said.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said: "This is an accusation warrant - the allegation is of course a serious one.

"I do have regard for the circumstances of the case - these allegations came to light by your own admissions, by your own book and in your own words."

De Mooi and his husband, who are both apparently out of work, were ordered to pay £5,000 security as a bail condition.

He was also banned from international travel, has to sleep every night at his home address and keep a charged mobile phone with him at all times.

Press Association

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