A Malaysian man is to be executed after he was found guilty of murdering two British medical students on placement in Borneo.
Newcastle University students Aidan Brunger, of Kent, and Neil Dalton, of Ambergate, in Derbyshire, were killed in August last year by a young fishmonger who, prosecutors said, had told friends he wanted to “test his strength” against foreigners.
Zulkipli Abdullah, 24, denied stabbing the students to death but admitted getting involved in a streetfight with them and two other men outside a bar. He is now expected to be hanged – the mandatory punishment for murder in Malaysia.
The families of the two victims issued a joint statement saying they were “pleased” with the guilty verdict, but added that it would not bring the two men back.
“Our sons would soon have qualified as doctors,” said the victims’ parents Phil and Jan Dalton and Paul Brunger and Sue Hidson.
“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.”
Both aged 22 when they were killed, the victims had been working at a local hospital in Kuching, a popular backpacking destination.
They were stabbed and killed after an incident in a bistro or cafe in the early hours of the morning, an inquest into their deaths heard last year. Their fathers positively identified their sons' remains when they were flown back to the UK.
The families' British lawyer Kieran Mitchell, from Slater and Gordon, called the attack “savage and unprovoked” and said Mr Brunger and Mr Dalton had “travelled to Borneo with the sole aim of using their medical skills to help people”.
“Since that day the families have put their faith in the Borneo justice system, which is very different to our own, adding further strain and difficulty during this devastating ordeal,” Mr Mitchell said. “After a long and complicated trial they are relieved that justice has been done.”