Student jailed for killing father who terrorised him

 

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The Independent Online

A "dutiful and obedient" son, who murdered his controlling, cantankerous father and buried his dismembered body under concrete in the garden, was jailed for life yesterday.

Mark Alexander, a 22-year-old law student, remained impassive as Judge John Reddihough told him he would serve a minimum of 16 years in jail.

Accepting that the young man had lived in fear of his 70-year-old father, Samuel, the judge said he had nevertheless acted in a "despicable, callous, sometimes cunning manner" as he tried to cover up the crime for months after burying the body under concrete.

Reading Crown Court heard that the partially burned remains of the former lecturer were only found after neighbours became suspicious of his son and compiled a dossier of information for police. Alexander denied the murder but was convicted by a majority verdict on Wednesday.

The six-week trial was told the extent to which Alexander's father dominated his life. In mitigation, the student's lawyer, Michael Borelli QC, said his mother was driven out of the family by the "boorish and bullying" behaviour of her then husband when the defendant was only six years old.

From then on, his father had a hold on his son's life to such an extent that he used a bell to summon him and kept him apart from other children, making him study and practice music for long hours.

The Egyptian-born university lecturer had been extremely ambitious for his child, who had been educated at Rugby school in Warwickshire, and girlfriends were seen as an unwelcome distraction.

Alexander was so fearful of his parent, Mr Borelli added, that he could not tell him that he was planning to defy his wishes that he attend the Sorbonne university in Paris and was instead moving in with a girlfriend in London, where he was studying law and French at King's College.

John Price, for the prosecution, told the jury: "Senta Nazarbekova [his girlfriend] described what she saw of the father-and-son relationship and how, as it seemed to her, Mark struggled under the weight of his father's expectations and his control of him. On the face of this, it seems Mark did not, or possibly could not, resist. To Samuel, Mark would have appeared every inch the dutiful and obedient son."

Mr Borelli claimed that his father spent long hours on the computer surfing teenage chatrooms and sex websites, sometimes posing as a young man, while his son was caring for him at the house in the village of Drayton Parslow, Buckinghamshire.

"The relationship to some extent involved fear of his father, or at least fear of going against his father's wishes," Judge Reddihough said, adding: "You might have killed him because you couldn't face telling him of your future plans or because you tried to tell him and he disagreed."

But he added that the aggravating factor was that he had tried to conceal the crime. While Mr Alexander Snr was last seen at a garden party in August 2009, he was not reported missing until February. The son kept up the pretence that his father was still alive for six months, even faking his father's signature on Christmas cards and claiming the cost of his carers from social services.

He told police that his father was still alive, that he had last seen him shortly before Christmas, and that he had moved to a Christian religious community in north London.

Judge Reddihough said: "Not only did you end your father's life in early September last year, you ruined all of your own future prospects."

Detective Chief Inspector Joe Kidman, who investigated the case, said: "Mark Alexander grew up under difficult and unusual circumstances. However that has to be balanced with the fact that he killed his 70-year-old father. Not only did he deny Samuel Alexander's right to proper burial, but he deliberately tried to deceive neighbours and officers."