Life term for Saudi prince who murdered servant

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A Saudi prince who used his servant as a "human punchbag" was jailed for life today for beating and strangling him to death.







Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, 34, stood with his arms folded and showed no emotion as he was told he must serve a minimum term of 20 years in jail.



The prince killed 32-year-old Bandar Abdulaziz in a brutal assault with a "sexual element" at their five-star hotel in central London in February.



It was the culmination of a campaign of "sadistic" abuse including a previous "nasty" assault in a hotel lift weeks before.



Mr Justice Bean told the prince, who had tried to claim diplomatic immunity when he was first arrested: "No-one in this country is above the law."



Saud, a member of one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful families, did not flinch as the judge described the injuries he had inflicted on the "subservient" Mr Abdulaziz.



The judge said: "I cannot be sure that you intended to kill your victim. I think the most likely explanation is that you could not care less whether you killed him or not."



Saud, shaven-headed and wearing a black top, was watched from the public gallery by his father Prince Abdulaziz, looking ashen-faced and glancing between his son in the dock and the judge passing sentence.



An Old Bailey jury heard how the prince bit his victim hard on both cheeks during his murderous attack at their suite in the Landmark hotel in Marylebone.



Saud was fuelled by champagne and Sex on the Beach cocktails when he began the ferocious beating after a Valentine's Day night out.



He was found guilty of murder as well as a second count of grievous bodily harm with intent relating to the attack in the lift.



If he ever returns to his home country, Saud faces the possibility of execution because being gay is a capital offence there, and he could seek asylum in Britain when he is eventually released.







The judge said: "It is very unusual for a prince to be in the dock on a murder charge. But your trial has proceeded in just the same way as anyone else's would in this court.



"No one in this country is above the law. It would be wrong for me to sentence you either more severely or more leniently because of your membership of the royal family in Saudi Arabia.



"You killed Bandar in the course of a sustained and ferocious assault. You were in a position of domination over him, as demonstrated both by the lift incident and by the sexually explicit photographs you took of him, at some point prior to February 15, which were found on your mobile phone.



"Bandar was a vulnerable victim, entirely subjugated to your will. You were in a position of authority and trust over him which you exploited ruthlessly.



"Whether or not your relationship with him had involved sexual intercourse as well makes no difference to sentence in this case."



Saud's initial claim that the aide's injuries were caused by a mugging were exposed after police discovered CCTV footage of the lift attack on January 22.



The judge said: "The most chilling aspect of that footage is that your victim did not resist at all.



"He was so completely subservient to you that after being treated as a human punchbag he followed you meekly out of the lift."



The attack left the aide's ear swollen to three times the normal size and "beyond medical treatment".



Saud did not take him to hospital and inflicted a further attack in the lift on a later occasion - further evidence, said the judge of "this having been a violent and abusive relationship over a period of weeks if not longer".



The attack which killed Mr Abdulaziz left him with so many injuries, including bleeding in the brain, a fractured larynx and bruising in the abdomen, that pathologists could not say for certain what caused his death.



Saud had murdered him between 1.40am and 2.40am and spent the next 12 hours on the phone "working out his options".



"If you had any remorse you would have sought medical help immediately. But you were only concerned for yourself," said the judge.



The prince told a "pack of lies" to paramedics and police before admitting he carried out the killing shortly before the trial - claiming it was manslaughter but not murder, he added.



"To this day you have not explained why you killed him."



A prosecution application for costs was adjourned to be heard on Friday.









The sentence spells an end to the gay prince's luxury playboy lifestyle in which he dined in fine restaurants and was attended by male escorts in his hotel room.



A gay masseur who visited him there described the "dashing" Saud as a cross between Omar Sharif and Nigel Havers.



In court, his lawyers made a failed bid before the trial started to stop evidence of his homosexuality being made public.



The suave prince pretended Mr Abdulaziz was his friend and travelling companion but no-one seemed aware of the darker side of his treatment of the aide.



Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said: "Beneath the surface this was a deeply abusive relationship which the defendant exploited for sadistic reasons, for his own personal gratification."



Mr Laidlaw said the assault leading to the aide's death "was a really terrible, a really brutal attack".



Saud, who told detectives he was the grandson of the Saudi king, had denied killing his servant until shortly before the trial, before finally admitting that he had caused his death.



Jurors rejected a claim by his barrister John Kelsey-Fry QC that he was only guilty of manslaughter.



Detective Chief Inspector John McFarlane said: "He treated Bandar with utter contempt."