Hoogstraten hired thugs "for the purpose of murder"
mark at tlio.org.uk
Mon Dec 19 17:17:32 GMT 2005
Van Hoogstraten held responsible for killing
Monday December 19, 2005
The property baron Nicholas van Hoogstraten was today held
responsible by the high court for the killing of business rival
The ruling on a £6m civil action from the dead man's family came
after Mr Van Hoogstraten was cleared of manslaughter in the criminal
Mr Raja, 62, a former business associate of Mr Van Hoogstraten, was
stabbed and shot by two of the property tycoon's henchmen after
answering the doorbell at his home in Sutton, south London, on July 2
He had been in the process of suing Mr Van Hoogstraten over a
business deal at the time of his death.
Mr Raja's murderers, Robert Knapp and David Croke, were jailed for
life at the Old Bailey in 2002. Mr Van Hoogstraten walked free from
prison a year into a 10-year sentence for manslaughter when the court
of appeal set aside his conviction.
The dead man's family brought the £6m civil case for damages to ask
the high court to decide if Mr Van Hoogstraten was directly involved.
During the trial he had denied hiring two hitmen and his lawyer,
Richard Ferguson QC, suggested the killing was more like a
robbery "gone horribly wrong" than a carefully planned hit by a
Giving judgment today following a six-day hearing in London last
month, Mr Justice Lightman said: "I am satisfied that the recruitment
of the two thugs was for the purpose of murdering Mr Raja and not
merely frightening or hurting him.
"The use of two violent thugs armed with a shotgun was more than was
needed to frighten or injure him. The second shot was deliberately
aimed at killing him.
"Mr Raja had at all times shown himself resilient, ready to resist
threats and to complain to the police.
"Nothing less than murder would rid Mr van Hoogstraten of this thorn
in his flesh."
Mr Justice Lightman said he reached his conclusion "on the balance of
probabilities" - the civil law standard of proof - "and indeed, if it
were necessary, beyond reasonable doubt" - the criminal law standard.
Mr van Hoogstraten, in arranging the murder, was trying to obtain the
release or settlement of Mr Raja's court action against him on terms
highly favourable to Mr van Hoogstraten, the judge said.
"His purpose in murdering Mr Raja has not been achieved because,
contrary to his expectations, Mr Raja's family have been as resilient
as was Mr Raja in his lifetime in standing up to Mr van Hoogstraten."
Amjad Raja, the dead man's son, said outside the court that the
family had been seeking justice. "No amount of money will ever make
up for the loss of our father," he said. Mr Raja added he would like
to see Mr Van Hoogstraten "behind bars".
The property tycoon - who earned his first criminal record at the age
of 11, described his politics as being "to the right of Attila the
Hun" and became a vocal supporter of Zimbabwe's president, Robert
Mugabe - was not in court or represented during the civil
He has nine convictions, the most serious of which was damaging the
home of a clergyman with a hand grenade in 1968, for which he
received a four-year sentence. He has described his tenants
as "filth", business rivals as "maggots" and ramblers who cross the
land around his East Sussex mansion as "scum".
He is believed to have gone to Zimbabwe, where he has business
interests, having told Mr Justice Lightman's clerk after an earlier
hearing that he was leaving the country and would not be back until
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