Hitman blamed for killing of London businessman

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A MULTIMILLIONAIRE property developer gunned down in a central London street was murdered by a professional hitman, Scotland Yard said last night.

Donald Urquhart, 55, was hand-in-hand with his girlfriend in Marylebone High Street on Saturday evening when the killer drew up on a motorcycle, dismounted and fired two point-blank shots from a revolver at Mr Urquhart's head.

His girlfriend, Pat Iamspithone, tried to grapple with the gunman but was pushed away. As Mr Urquhart lay bleeding on the pavement the killer stood above him and fired a third bullet into the back of his head before running away to the motorcycle. Ms Iamspithone, 36, who is Thai born, was uninjured. Mr Urquhart died in hospital later.

Detectives said last night that the most likely motive for the murder lay in Mr Urquhart's extensive business dealings in London and around the world. Detective Superintendent Bill Scholes, who is leading the investigation, said it was clear that a paid assassin was involved: 'It had all the hallmarks of a professional killing by a man who was paid to do it. The man who carried it out was a cool, calculating, cold-blooded professional killer.'

Mr Urquhart and Ms Iamspithone lived in a penthouse apartment close by. They had been for a drink in a local public house, the Queen's Head, and were looking for a taxi to take them to a restaurant for dinner. Mr Scholes said that Mr Urquhart visited the public house two or three times a week and detectives were trying to establish how the killer had traced his movements.

The police were last night pursuing two main strands of investigation. One was a search for the 250cc Yamaha motorcycle, registration GRD 505W, which was sold by its previous owner to an unknown purchaser in mid-November. The man who rode it on Saturday was described by witnesses as 5ft 7in to 5ft 10in tall, white, with fair or ginger hair, wearing a bomber jacket, jeans and trainers. He is also believed to have been wearing glasses.

The second line of investigation concerns Mr Urquhart's business and professional life. He was not known to the police and Mr Scholes said there was no evidence to link him with money laundering or drug dealing.

Mr Urquhart was described as 'a loner who ran a one-man operation'; his company, Belgap, specialised in residential property dealing in London. He had had interests in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and Jersey.

Mr Urquhart was divorced many years ago and was no longer in contact with his wife or daughter. Miss Iamspithone and he met four years ago and had lived together for the past two years.

Mr Scholes said the dead man's brother, Lovett Urquhart, had told police that his brother had recently been concerned for his safety and had expressed fears about being mugged in London, although he had not said anything about his life being in danger. He travelled last night to Spain to tell their elderly mother of the death.

(Photograph omitted)