Murder trial Briton 'caught out'

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The Independent Online
John Martin Scripps, the Briton on trial in Singapore for three murders, admitted to the prosecution yesterday that it had caught him out over discrepancies in his accounts of events after one of the killings.

Mr Scripps, 35, accused of chopping up of a South African in a Singapore hotel and two Canadians in Thailand, has exasperated prosecutors with his lack of memory of events.

He admits killing the South African Gerard Lowe, but claims it was an unpremeditated attack following a homosexual advance.

He says he knows nothing about the deaths of the two Canadians who were staying in a hotel room next to him in Thailand and shared a cab with him from the airport.

Mr Scripps said that the passports of the deceased, along with credit cards and other papers, were placed in his baggage by an unnamed "British friend" whom he described as a drug trafficker in his mid-forties.

He has told the court he got to know this man through his past activities in the drug trade. He also alleged that the friend was responsible for chopping up and disposing of Mr Lowe's body in a river. He said he cannot reveal the man's identity because it would jeopardise the lives of his family.

On the second day of cross-examination by the prosecution yesterday, Mr Scripps gave a long account of how he returned to his hotel room the day after Mr Lowe's murder to find that his "friend" had removed all his identification documents and most of his money.

Going over the sequence of events that followed, he gave a version which contradicted an earlier statement made to the police.

When, under intense questioning, the discrepancies were pointed out by Jennifer Marie, the Deputy Public Prosecutor, he conceded: "I think you've caught me out."

Mr Scripps maintains that his inability to remember events after the murder of Mr Lowe, 32, is due to having gone on a drinking binge after the killing and also because he was drugged with sedatives to calm him down.

During the past two days Mr Scripps, who faces the death penalty if convicted of premeditated murder, has answered most questions with either "I don't know" or "I can't be sure".

Showing increasing signs of exasperation, Ms Marie declared to him yesterday: "This is your stock answer - 'I don't know'."

The defence is calling no witness other than Mr Scripps, who is struggling to provide collaboration for his story. He frequently contradicts himself.

Mr Scripps has alluded to his criminal past on a number of occasions, given the court details of how to forge credit card signatures and cash stolen travellers' cheques, and indicated the price of illegal heroin on the Thai market.

The trial continues.

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