Van Hoogstraten found guilty of manslaughter

tliouk office at
Mon Jul 22 17:29:18 BST 2002

Well that's the news we've all been waiting for ...great!

Tycoon guilty of manslaughter 

Staff and agencies
Monday July 22, 2002 

Property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten was today cleared of murder 
but found guilty of manslaughter after an Old Bailey jury decided he 
had hired hitmen who killed a business associate. 
One of Britain's wealthiest individuals, 57-year-old Van Hoogstraten, 
paid the two men £7,000 to take revenge on Mohammed Raja, who had 
begun civil court action against the tycoon alleging fraud. 
Van Hoogstraten would have faced criminal proceedings and possibly 
jail if Raja had succeeded. 
After eight days of deliberation the panel of six men and six women 
concluded that Van Hoogstraten had intended that the hitmen should 
harm the 62-year-old landlord, but not kill him. 
Raja was stabbed five times and shot in the face with a sawn-off 
shotgun at his home in Surrey on July 2 1999. As he was attacked, the 
court heard, he shouted: "These are Hoogstraten's men. They've hit 
me, they've hit me." 
Amjad Raja, the victim's son, said after the case: "This was a brutal 
murder. We as a family knew Van Hoogstraten was guilty from day one. 
He sent these vicious killers who murdered our father. 
"He has destroyed our family and has taken away from us a wonderful 
father who would have done anything for his children." 
Van Hoogstraten, who spent four years in jail for arranging a hand 
grenade attack on the Brighton home of a business associate and his 
family, had allegedly told Mr Raja: "Your dad is a maggot. He does 
not know what I am. We pick thorns who are a pain and we break them." 
The hitmen, David Croke and Robert Knapp, were disguised as gardeners 
when they appeared in Raja's leafy suburban street and rang his front 
door bell. 
His grandsons, who were upstairs at the time, heard raised voices 
followed by a loud bang. When they ran down the stairs, they found 
him holding his chest. 
The trial judge, Mr Justice Newman, today sentenced Croke and Knapp 
to life. 
"It is the place of everyone to consider what brings men to take a 
sawn-off shotgun and a knife to an elderly man and, having stabbed 
him fatally, to shoot him in the head at a range of six to 12 
inches," he said. 
"In this case, no remorse between the stabbing and the shooting, no 
hesitation ... no motive to the killing, save one, greed. Greed for 
some money or the receipt of favours." 
The judge warned Van Hoogstraten that he was considering a life 
sentence for him too, but the tycoon opted for a psychiatric report 
before his final sentencing on October 2. 
Van Hoogstraten said nothing throughout his appearance in court today 
sitting almost entirely out of view in the dock. He spoke briefly 
with his solicitor and counsel before he was led to the cells flanked 
by three prison officers. 
The tycoon is reputed to have a £500m fortune - ranking him alongside 
the Rothschilds. He has a neo-classical copper-domed mansion near 
Uckfield, East Sussex, said to be the most expensive private house 
built in Britain for a century. 
But he will now spend the next few weeks in high-security Belmarsh 
jail in south London undergoing psychiatric assessment. 
His fortune was based on property deals - often terrorising tenants 
he described as "filth". A judge once described him as the "emissary 
of Beelzebub."

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