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Chinese businessman murdered family of four in Northampton with 'ruthless efficiency' after business relationship turned sour, court hears

Anxiang Du accused of killing a Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer, his wife and their two daughters

A Chinese man living in Coventry murdered a couple and their two daughters because of a disagreement over a business relationship, a court has heard.

Jifeng and Helen Ding were found stabbed to death in the kitchen of their home in Northampton on 1 May 2011. Their daughters Nancy, 18, and Alice, 12, were also discovered in an upstairs bedroom.

Today, the prosecution opened its case against Anxiang Du, 55, who stands accused of killing them in cold blood. Speaking through a Mandarin translator in a hearing at Northampton Crown Court earlier this month, he denied four counts of murder.

William Harbage QC, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Du killed the family of four as an act of “revenge” following a fall-out with Mr Ding, a Manchester University lecturer and former business partner.

“Anxiang Du travelled to Northampton from his home in Coventry, via Birmingham, armed with a kitchen knife, and savagely stabbed to death firstly the two people, Mr and Mrs Ding, with whom he had been having a long-running legal dispute,” Mr Harbage said.

“Not content with killing them, the mother and father, in the kitchen of their own home, he then went upstairs to find their two daughters, Nancy aged 18 and Alice aged 12, cowering in a bedroom.

“He cold-bloodedly stabbed them to death as well.”

Police believe the alleged murder took place on 29 April, the day of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Mr Du was arrested in February this year after being extradited to the UK from Morocco, and members of his family have flown in from China to be in court for the trial.

Mr Harbage told the court that each member of the family had sustained many wounds, some of which had penetrated the chest cavity causing fatal damage to the heart and lungs. He said Mr Du had carried out the killings in order to get revenge after a decade-long legal dispute with the Dings that left him with a large sum to pay in court costs.

“Why did he do it?” Mr Harbage asked jurors. “The answer is quite simply revenge.

“The defendant Du and his wife and Mr and Mrs Ding used to be in business together. The business relationship turned sour. There followed a long running dispute lasting for 10 years involving protracted and acrimonious litigation in the civil courts for seven of those 10 years.

“Although Du won the first battle he lost the last and was left with a large sum of money to pay in costs, some £88,000. On the 28th of April 2011, the day before the killings, he was served with an injunction to prevent him from dissipating his assets.

“It was obvious to him that he had lost, he faced ruin, there was no other legitimate course of action for him to take to fight his case. And so he resorted to violence, to murder, in order to avenge himself of the people who had caused him such grief.

“He did so not just by killing them, Mr and Mrs Ding, but also by murdering their wholly innocent daughters with whom he had no grievance whatsoever.

“Du made a plan and carried it out with ruthless efficiency.”

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

Additional reporting by PA