New bride 'confesses to murder' of British pastor

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The Independent Online

A British clergyman who moved to the Philippines after carrying out missionary work there has been murdered by hitmen hired by his new Filipino wife, according to local reports.

The body of Pastor David Brash, 62, a Baptist minister from Warrington, Cheshire, was found at the weekend in a swampy area in the island of Mindanao, Manila's Inquirer newspaper reported.

His wife, Analyn Batalyer Brash, 23, has now "cracked" and confessed to masterminding the killing, the newspaper reported. It said that Mrs Brash had been charged last night.

The victim was confirmed as Mr Brash by police in the Caraga region in the north of Mindanao. Mr Brash, a father-of-two, led the Runcorn Independent Baptist Church in Cheshire for 12 years. Last year, however, he married his new wife after meeting her at a church near her home in Mindanao, where he was donating and repairing computers to the local churches. Six weeks ago, he left the UK to live in the area.

Stuart Hart, the secretary of Runcorn Independent Baptist Church, expressed shock at the news. "He was a very godly man and worked very hard for the church," he said. "He had been going to the Philippines for about five years doing missionary projects. That is, I believe, how he met his wife." Walter Johnston, a pastor who has helped Mr Brash's former parishioners since he left, said he heard about the death "through the grapevine" in church circles, and that he last saw the missionary "when he was packing up his gear and saying goodbye".

"He seemed very happy and this tragic news has come as a terrible shock," Mr Johnston added.

The Foreign Office said it was "aware of reports about David Brash" but would not confirm the details. The Inquirer report said that Mrs Brash went to local police to report Brash's disappearance "in late November", after the clergyman failed to return to the couple's rented apartment in the village of Barangay Libertad.

Senior Supt Ramon Espiritu, the deputy police chief for operations in the Caraga region in the north of Mindanao, told the Inquirer that the pastor's wife "cracked and finally confessed and admitted her role in her husband's disappearance and murder".

Mrs Brash confessed to paying 30,000 Philippine pesos about 350 to two hitmen to kill her husband. "[Out] of hatred and anger, because of her husband's maltreatment, she had him killed," Mr Espiritu was quoted as saying. She led officers to the spot where he was killed.

The newspaper's website named Reynante Prado and Noel Noja as suspects in the case, and said that they were still at large.

On 22 October, before his move to the Philippines, Mr Brash wrote a final entry on his website. "Annalyn has asked that we spend Christmas and New Year with her family. It will be our first Christmas together and my first one in the Philippines."

He added that they would be looking for somewhere to live. "I want her to be happy about where we live."

"Me? I would be happy to live anywhere with her, so long as we are serving the Lord," he wrote.