Nurse is jailed for causing death of millionaire banker

An American male nurse accidentally caused the death by asphyxiation of the millionaire banker Edmond Safra when a hare-brained attempt to impress his boss went tragically wrong, a court in Monaco decided yesterday.

Ted Maher, 44, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after admitting he started the fire which killed his employer and another nurse three years ago in a muddled plot to make himself look like a hero.

After a 10-day trial, the Monaco criminal court rejected suggestions that the confused and slow reaction of the Monaco police and fire brigade contributed to the death of the 67-year-old banker and his nurse, Vivien Torrente, 52.

Maher set fire to a waste paper bin in M. Safra's apartment and stabbed himself in his stomach and thigh after telling his employer that he was being attacked by a criminal "commando" unit. He bundled the banker and his nurse into a bathroom and raised the alarm, intending to claim the credit for fighting off the attackers.

The fire spread rapidly through the apartment, while police and firemen struggled with security doors and waited for reinforcements to tackle a criminal gang, which did not exist. At one point, the police arrested and handcuffed M. Safra's chief bodyguard, thinking that he was an attacker.

A policeman spoke to M. Safra on a mobile telephone but was unable to persuade him to leave his sanctuary, the court heard. The Monaco chief prosecutor, Daniel Serdet, rejected suggestions from lawyers representing Maher, and the families of the victims, that the principality's emergency services were partly responsible for the deaths.

He also dismissed, without referring to them specifically, the many conspiracy theories surrounding the deaths. "There is no mystery here," M. Serdet said. "Maher was exclusively responsible for the deaths.The only mystery which remains is what was going on in head and what were his true motives".

Scientific evidence presented to the trial did, however, raise some facts which could not easily fit into the version of events broadly accepted by the defence and prosecution. The court was told that DNA traces from an unknown man were found under M. Safra's fingernails and that spots of the banker's blood were found on the bra and knickers of the dead nurse. Since there was no way of telling when, and in what circumstances, these came to be present, they should be ignored, the prosecutor said.

Maher, who was found guilty of "causing deaths by arson in an inhabited place", told the court he concocted a "stupid" plot to make himself appear a hero to his boss. M. Safra's family's lawyers suggested that he expected to be given a large sum of money for his heroism.

Elisabeth de Franceschi, a psychiatrist, told the court that Maher, a former US paratrooper, was an immature, ambitious man, who came to hero-worship M. Safra and could not bear the thought that others shared his affection. "He had an insatiable hunger for recognition ... He was driven by jealousy and competetiveness," she said.

M. Safra's security chief, Samuel Cohen, told the court he would have been able to save his boss but his route was barred by the Monaco police for a crucial 30 minutes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Partner Manager - EMEA

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partner Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Sales Manager - OTE £100,000

£45000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Sales Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company provides IT support...

Recruitment Genius: IT Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manager is for a successfu...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific