Murder charge after arrest on yacht: Roderick Newall has been accused of killing his parents. David Connett reports

David Connett
Thursday 06 August 1992 23:02
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A MAN ACCUSED of murdering his parents appeared in court in Gibraltar yesterday after an international police hunt which ended in an arrest at sea.

Roderick Newall, 27, was on board his yacht when he was stopped 150 miles south-west of Gibraltar in international waters by Royal Navy ships.

He is accused of murdering his retired Scottish parents, Elizabeth and Nicholas, who were last seen alive in Jersey on 11 October 1987. He was remanded in custody for a week while his extradition to Jersey is prepared, police said.

Detectives last night played down a connection between Roderick Newall and the case of Rachel Nickell, a part-time model whose body was found on Wimbledon Common three weeks ago. She had been raped and stabbed.

Mr Newall is believed to have been in the Common area at about the time she was killed. But senior officers in Jersey stressed the connection between the two cases was 'purely coincidental'.

The Metropolitan Police said last night that it would not discuss who was being questioned about Ms Nickell's murder but privately officers said that the connection 'was not a strong priority'.

Mr and Mrs Newall disappeared after leaving the Sea Crest restaurant in Jersey after having dinner with their sons Roderick and Mark, 25. A week later they were reported missing and their bodies have never been found. Forensic scientists found minute traces of blood at the couple's home at St Brelade, Jersey.

Scientific evidence suggested that Mrs Newall, 48, had been murdered in her bedroom and her husband, a Lloyd's underwriter, 57, was bludgeoned to death in the living room below.

Roderick Newall, a former Royal Green Jackets lieutenant based at Winchester, Hampshire, and Mark, a financier who works between New York and Paris, inherited their parents' estimated pounds 500,000 estate last year after winning an application at Jersey's Royal Court in St Helier to have their parents presumed dead.

Mark Newall told the hearing he and his brother left their parents' pounds 200,000 bungalow in the early hours of 11 October after a champagne meal to celebrate his mother's birthday.

Police inquiries continued and after new developments a warrant for Mark Newall's arrest was issued by the Jersey authorities on 17 July.

He was arrested after a joint operation between the Royal Navy and Jersey and Gibraltar police. The Ministry of Defence said the Royal Naval frigate HMS Argonaut and HMS Ranger located Mr Newall's yacht and moved in after keeping it under surveillance for 48 hours. Detectives on board HMS Argonaut boarded the 66ft (20m) yacht Austral Soma and arrested Mr Newall. A Royal Navy crew sailed the yacht back to Gibraltar where a full search was being carried out.

Last weekend as a result of the inquiries Det Insp James Adamson and Det Sgt Charles Macdowall of Jersey police travelled to Gibraltar to enlist the help of the local police.

A request was also made through HM Lieutenant Governor in Jersey to the Home Office and Ministry of Defence in London, asking for the help of the Royal Navy.

Detectives in Jersey said the latest developments followed a review of the case by the Attorney General, Sir Nicholas Lyell. There had already been two previous full reviews. The latest followed the switching of all information on the case on to the police Holmes computer, which is used to help detectives manage large amounts of detailed information. The Newalls were reported missing by their son Roderick eight days after the birthday celebration.

Concerned friends alerted him after breaking into the house and discovering a patio door wide open and the central heating turned on full.

Detectives suspect this was to remove evidence that the room and contents had been washed down and scrubbed.

Police never satisfactorily identified a young man who bought pickaxes, shovels, saws, tarpaulins and scalpels from a local hardware store the day before the Newalls' disappearance.

David Le Quesne, a Jersey lawyer representing Mr Newall, said he had spoken to his client. 'He told me what had happened. I will be speaking to him again over the next few days and I will also be in touch with the police.'

(Photographs omitted)

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