Accused Briton fears for family



John Martin Scripps, the 35-year-old Briton accused of murdering a South African and two Canadians, gave evidence for the first time yesterday in Singapore's Supreme Court.

He claimed that members of his family could be killed by a drugs gang if he revealed the name of an accomplice who, he alleges, disposed of the body of his South African victim.

Mr Scripps, who is also known as John Martin, admitted that he killed Gerard George Lowe, 32, a South African brewery employee who was holidaying in Singapore.

However, he claimed that Mr Lowe's body was "disarticulated" by an unnamed British "friend" who he said was an associate from the past when he "was doing drugs". He claimed he would be labelled as a "grass" if he named the man.

He told the court: "I know what these people are capable of. I just can't give the person's name. It's my life or my family's. I suppose it will have to be mine."

Mr Scripps has denied killing two Canadians - Sheila Damude, 49, and her son Darin, 23 - in the Thai resort of Phuket. However, yesterday he admitted for the first time that he had met the couple and shared a taxi with them from the airport to the hotel where he occupied an adjacent room and, after they disappeared, moved into their room.

He claims that he accidentally killed Mr Lowe with a 3.3lb hammer after he woke up to find the South African touching his backside and smiling at him. The men had met at Singapore's international airport and Mr Scripps said he agreed to share a hotel room with him because accommodation was hard to obtain and he wanted to save money. "I just freaked out," he said. "I've had experience of such things in the past and I was very frightened."

The trial continues.