A coroner has ruled that two medical students, one from Belper, died as a result of unlawful killing.
Neil Dalton, from Ambergate, and Aidan Brunger, from Kent, were stabbed to death in Kuching, Borneo on August 6, 2014 in what coroner Robert Hunter called a ‘random attack’ at an inquest held today at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner’s Court.
The friends, both 22, had been at the end of an eight week placement at Sarawak Hospital and where on their way home from a night out with other students from the University of Newcastle when the man got out of a car and attacked them with a large knife.
A postmortem found that Aidan had two stab wounds to his chest and index finger, and Neil had two stab wounds to his back and two to his chest, one penetrated his heart. The cause of death was given by the Malaysian authorities as Cardiac tamponade. British Pathologist Mike Briggs said that the stab wounds caused fatal internal injuries.
The coroner read out a statement from Neil’s dad Phillip, which said: “Neil’s death was shocking and it’s hard to believe we will never see him again. We will never be able to get it out of our minds, Neil is irreplaceable. It haunts us thinking of what he went through that night. He is someone who would have helped anybody.
“We will miss him coming home, eating dinner and the wonderful hugs he gave. We pray to hold him again but that’s the one thing we can’t do - we can smell his clothes and look at photos but we can’t touch him.”
In giving his verdict, Dr Hunter, who asked for a break in proceedings after becoming visibly upset, said that the two men had been trying to get a taxi home at the end of the night and Aidan approached a car laughing and asked for a lift home. Shortly after that a man from another car started being hostile towards them, so they moved on. As they walked back to the hostel a car appeared and the man produced a knife and started to attack them.
Dr Hunter told the families: “The light that they shone far outweighs the darkness that befell them on August 6 last year. I know you will miss them terribly but that light will continue to shine in your hearts. The light that they shone in their short lives is more than a lot of people will do in their lives.”
In a joint statement from Neil and Aidan’s families: “We are satisfied with the coroner’s verdict of unlawful killing.
Aidan and Neil were murdered in a random and totally unprovoked attack on the street as they walked home with other medical students.
The loss of a child is utterly horrific and we still find it hard to believe we will never see our sons again.
We will always miss Neil and Aidan terribly, and wonder what might have been if they were able to pursue their dream of being doctors and helping others.
The support from family and friends has been overwhelming and we would like to thank them all.
We would also like to thank Newcastle University, Victim Support and our Police Family Liaison Officers, who have helped us through this dreadful time.
Our sons made us so proud of what they achieved in their too short lives, we loved them very much, and we always will.”
In March, Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, was found guilty at trial of murder. He was sentenced to the death penalty.