'Dutiful' son killed his overbearing father, court told

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The Independent Online

A former public schoolboy murdered his overbearing father, dismembered his body and buried him under concrete in their garden because he wanted to escape the weight of expectation placed upon him, a jury heard yesterday.

Mark Alexander, 22, kept up the pretence that his father, Samuel, was alive for six months, even sending bogus Christmas cards to neighbours and claiming the cost of his father's home care from social services, it was alleged.

It was not until neighbours became concerned that they had not seen Mr Alexander, 70, for months that they reported him missing. Police found his partly burned, dismembered body buried in plastic bags under concrete at his home in Drayton Parslow, Buckinghamshire, in February.

Alexander Jnr, who was in the third year of a law and French degree at Kings College, London, and was considered by family and friends as a "dutiful and obedient son". When he was arrested, one distraught neighbour told police: "Nothing ever really happens in Drayton Parslow."

The court was told the defendant had struggled to live his own life, suffocated by the demands of his Egyptian-born father, who made him live with him at his home, even while he was studying in London.

Increasingly frail after prolonged illness, he kept his son isolated from his own mother and saw no room for girlfriends, forcing him to concentrate on his studies, a jury at Reading Crown Court heard.

"The Crown alleges that it was his son Mark who killed him," said John Price, for the prosecution. "It was his son Mark who had disposed of his father's body and that then, his father being out of the way, Mark started to lead the life that he wanted to lead, but which Mark knew his father would never have permitted whilst he was alive."

Jurors were told that Mr Alexander Snr, a retired university lecturer, had extremely high hopes for Mark and sent him to be educated privately at Rugby School in Warwickshire. He viewed girlfriends as a distraction and made his feelings clear.

As a young boy, Mark was not allowed to play with other children in the cul-de-sac where he lived, and had no contact with his mother after his parents separated, falsely telling friends that she was dead.

"Samuel kept himself and his son apart. The picture is of the father and son living together in this house, more or less isolated from those who lived around and about him," Mr Price added. He said Mark commuted to lectures in London, caring for his "cantankerous" and "difficult" father, who had had a colostomy bag fitted in 2008.

Mr Alexander regularly boasted about Mark's academic achievements and intended for him to study at the University of Paris Sorbonne as part of his degree, without knowing that his son had no plans to take up the placement. Mr Price said: "The degree of control he exercised over his son, Mark, was disapproved of by others who observed it, and was resented by others whom it affected directly.

"For example, Senta Nazarbekova [Mark's 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."

In September last year, however, Mark moved with Ms Nazarbekova to a flat in Fleet Street, central London, and told his tutors he could not go to France because his father was bed-bound. The prosecution alleges that it was likely by this time that Mr Alexander had already been killed.

During questioning by police, the accused insisted that his father was still alive. He claimed he had last seen him just before Christmas last year and his father was then living in a Christian community in London.

Mark Alexander denies murdering his father between 20 August 2009 and 5 February this year. He also denies unlawfully disposing of his body and two charges of perverting justice, by lying about his father's wellbeing and by dismembering his body and burying it in the garden.

The trial, likely to last six weeks, continues at Reading Crown Court.