British banker Rurik Jutting was so consumed by his personality disorders and addictions that he was not in control of his actions when he killed two women in his Hong Kong apartment, a psychiatrist told his trial Tuesday.
Jutting, 31, has pleaded not guilty to two murder charges, instead pleading guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility — which was rejected by the prosecution.
Cambridge graduate Jutting is accused of murdering Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, two years ago, slashing their throats after saying he would pay them for sex.
He tortured Ningsih inside his apartment for three days before killing her and stuffing her body in a suitcase found on his balcony.
The prosecution grilled defence witness Richard Latham, a forensic psychiatrist from London, as they sought to argue Jutting was in control of his decisions at that time.
Jutting had said he had killed Ningsih, his first victim, because she might report him, which was a logical reason, prosecution counsel John Reading said.
“I suggest to you that he was in control of himself,” Reading said.
Latham argued Jutting’s decisions to kill were impaired by his use of cocaine and alcohol, combined with sexual sadism and narcissistic personality disorders.
“I think it’s wrong to say that he had a completely ordinary level of control,” Latham told the court.
Reading argued that Jutting’s shopping trips to buy rope, a hammer and other implements with which he meant to torture Mujiasih, his second victim, showed “significant planning”.
But Latham said Jutting’s behaviour was likely driven by the desire to be in control and cause harm for sexual pleasure.
“In relation to killing (Mujiasih), that likely wasn’t his intention,” he said.
Jutting was so severely dependent on drugs and alcohol it would have been almost impossible for him to resist his craving to take them — his consumption was “close to automatic and involuntary”, said Latham.
Spiralling into chaos
The court heard how Jutting’s life had spiralled in the years leading up to the killings.
Defence counsel Tim Owen said he had felt sidelined after being transferred to Hong Kong from London in 2013. He had been flagged as a serious risk to his employer, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, over a possible violation of regulations linked to marketing of a tax product.
Jutting’s work was being monitored and on one occasion he was unable to turn up to the London office in 2014 during a trip back home, after taking too much cocaine, Owen said.
As an excuse, he told his employers he had HIV.
He had been seeking out sex workers, including men, said Owen.
After killing Mujiasih, Jutting had called his boss and said: “I’m in a lot of trouble, you have to do something about the bank’s reputation,” Owen said.
British psychologist Derek Perkins, a defence witness, told the court that Jutting’s life was “out of control, it was chaotic”.
Perkins said the underlying issue was his personality disorder, which made him unable to cope with the problems he created.
His sexual sadism quickly escalated in the two to three years before the killings, Perkins said.
The coming together of his disorders led him to engage in “horrific behaviour”, he added.
Perkins argued Jutting had been shocked at what he had done to Ningsih and that killing her had not been part of his original plan, which was to act out fantasies inspired by violent pornography.
“Killing wasn’t part of the culmination of that fantasy,” said Perkins.
The defence case continues Tuesday afternoon.