Gay Saudi prince 'murdered servant in ferocious attack'

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A gay Saudi prince murdered his servant in a ferocious attack with a "sexual element", a court heard today.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud killed Bandar Abdulaziz in the London hotel room they shared, a jury was told.

Bite marks on the 32-year-old victim's cheeks, inflicted with "considerable force", had an "obvious sexual connotation", the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Abdulaziz had accompanied the prince to a series of holiday destinations in the months before his death.

But the court heard that Saud had subjected him to physical assaults and mistreatment, with one "nasty" attack in the lift at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone, central London, on January 22 captured on CCTV.

Mr Abdulaziz was found beaten and strangled in bed with blood on his pillow in room 312 of the hotel, where the men were staying, on February 15.

He had suffered injuries to his left eye, lips, teeth, ears, brain, neck, back, rib and stomach, the court heard.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said the extent of the injuries, some caused by a series of heavy blows to his head and face, revealed "the ferocity of the attack to which he had been subjected before he died".

Bloodstains found in the room were "consistent with the victim having been the subject of a series of separate assaults before he was killed".

It became clear to police that he had been attacked "in the privacy of the room he had shared with the defendant and when alone with him", the jury was told.

Further searches of CCTV footage revealed previous assaults on the victim by the defendant, Mr Laidlaw said.

The prince told police he was heterosexual, with a girlfriend in Saudi Arabia, and that he and Mr Abdulaziz were "friends and equals", the court heard.

But Mr Laidlaw said: "The evidence establishes quite conclusively that he is either gay or that he has homosexual tendencies."

The court heard that the prince visited gay massage and escort agency websites and that two gay escorts had come to the hotel to perform sex acts on him.

A phone found in the room had "compromising photographs" on it of Mr Abdulaziz "in which he can be seen to have been posed partially naked on a bed".

Mr Laidlaw said: "It is clear that his abuse of Bandar was not confined simply to physical beatings. There is clear evidence, over and above the bite marks, that there was also a sexual element to his mistreatment of the victim."

He said the covering up of his homosexuality might in other circumstances be explained by embarrassment or fear.

But he added: "The defendant's concealing of the sexual aspect to his abuse of the victim was for altogether more sinister reasons and it tends to suggest that there was a sexual element to the circumstances of the killing."

The court heard that he appeared "shocked and upset" after the death of Mr Abdulaziz and had at first claimed his aide had been attacked and robbed of 3,000 euros in Edgware Road three weeks before his death.

He told police that the night before Mr Abdulaziz died, they had been drinking until the early hours of the morning and that when he woke at 3pm he could not rouse the victim.

But Mr Laidlaw told jurors the prince now admits carrying out the killing so it would be for them to decide if he were guilty of murder or only manslaughter.

The 34-year-old denies murder and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent relating to the alleged attack in January in the lift.

Mr Laidlaw said: "The prosecution know little of the defendant's background and even less about Bandar."

Jurors heard that the victim, an orphan who had been adopted by a middle class family, had met the prince through friends and during the last three years had travelled with him as an "occasional companion".

The defendant was a member of the Saudi royal family.

"His father is a nephew of the King and his mother is a daughter of the King," said Mr Laidlaw. "He has the title of prince."

The two men had travelled together to Milan, Budapest, Prague, Marrakesh and the Maldives before coming to Britain where they spent time shopping, eating out, and visiting bars and nightclubs, the court heard.

Some of those who saw them assumed that they were in a relationship and on one occasion the prince flirted with a gay barman, jurors were told.

On the evening leading up to the servant's death, the two men had gone for a meal at an Italian restaurant before returning to the bar of the Landmark hotel to drink champagne and "Sex on the Beach No 3" cocktails.

That night a guest in the room below theirs heard raised voices and loud noises that "sounded like furniture being knocked over", the court heard.

The prince phoned a "facilitator" from the Saudi embassy the next afternoon to say he had just woken up and could not rouse Mr Abdulaziz, the court heard.

Jurors were told he had tried to clean up some of the blood and wash some of the victim's bloodstained clothing, the court heard.

Mr Abdulaziz's blood was found on the prince's underpants and semen was found on the back of the victim's pants, the court heard. Some of the DNA in this area may have come from the prince.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.