Sunday, June 16, 2013

India: Update--Dutchman, 43, Charged with Murder of British Tourist, 24 in Kashmir

As a follow-up to my posting of June 1, and according to The Daily Mail, Richard De Wit, 43, a Dutch national, appeared in court on June 15 and offered no plea in the stabbing death of British tourist Sara Groves, 24, on a houseboat in Kashmir on April 6.

De Wit is accused of stabbing Ms. Groves 45 times with a 12-inch long knife. 

Despite having confessed to police to the murder of the victim, De Wit was silent during the hearing in Srinagar, Kashmir. His defense counsel applied for and was accorded a continuance until such time as the 100-page charge sheet could be translated from Urdu into English. De Wit's next court appearance is on June 24.

De Wit, from Ridderkerk, Netherlands, was charged with the murder after he was found 45 miles from the scene.

The victim was from Guernsey and was found by the houseboat owner's son in the early hours of the morning on April 6 after he heard screams coming from her cabin.

COMMENT: Initial police conclusions suggest that Groves vigorously resisted De Wit's efforts, although considering that he was seven-feet tall.

At this point, it is unknown as to what De Wit's motive was, as it could have ranged from rape, mental defect, drug use, robbery or homicide, or a combination of several motives.

Hopefully, the charge sheet may well shed some light on the assailant's motives, particularly in light of the fact that De Wit rented the cabin next to Groves' three days before the murder. Groves and De Wit were the only renters aboard the houseboat at the time.

Miss Groves had been there with her boyfriend, Saeed Ahmed Shoda, 25, since February 2013.

A Kashmir police source has reported that De Wit had smoked a large quantity of cannabis and returned to his cabin on the night of the murder.

One theory of the motive is that drug use caused De Wit to become paranoid that Groves was intending to kill him, prompting him  to force his way into her room and allegedly killed her in a frenzied attack with a knife.

Police could not confirm whether Miss Groves was sexually assaulted before being murdered. One can only hope that a forensic autopsy was performed after her death in April.

De Wit is being held in the region's central jail having received treatment in a government-run psychiatric hospital.