China

Rurik Jutting: A 'narcissistic' and 'sadistic' killer

  • 8 November 2016
  • From the section China
Rurik George Caton Jutting, a British banker charged with two counts of murder after police found the bodies of two women in his apartment, sits in the back row of a prison bus as he arrives at the Eastern Law Courts in Hong Kong November 24, 2014 Image copyright Reuters

On the 31st floor of an upmarket block of flats in Hong Kong's energetic Wanchai district, British banker Rurik Jutting brutally killed two Indonesian women in what would become known as one of the city's most notorious killings.

Warning: Readers may find some of the details of violence in this piece distressing.

It was late October 2014, and on paper the young banker had lived what could only be described as a privileged and successful life. But over the space of a few drug- and alcohol-fuelled days, he tortured and killed Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, before calling the police to let them know what he had done.

In court, lawyers described a much darker side to his apparently gilded existence, one involving drugs, sexual sadism, and an extreme personality disorder.

Jutting had tortured Ms Ningsih for three days, before he killed her by slashing her throat over a prolonged period, nearly decapitating her. He then hid her body in a suitcase.

A few days later, Jutting brought his second victim, Ms Mujiasih, to his flat. This was a woman he would go on to describe simply as "the prey" he had been hunting.


"Sumarti was generous. That much is clear from the evidence in the house. Her driving force was to improve life for her family, to make them richer. Life may be peaceful in the village but she would have been all too aware of the possibilities of a life with more material comforts."

The story of Sumarti: Born in Indonesia, murdered in Hong Kong


Disorders defining his life

Experts for the defence say Jutting's IQ score is 137 - putting him in the top 1% of the population. But they also diagnosed him with four disorders, which they said combined to lead to the killings:

•Narcissistic personality disorder

•Sexual sadism disorder

•Cocaine use disorder

•Alcohol use disorder

Prosecution witnesses argued that such conditions should not "substantially" diminish his ability to control his actions. But according to the defence, when it came to his narcissism, the signs were there from an early age.

Jutting was born in London in 1985. His first name Rurik was chosen by his mother, and literally translated as "great one" - it was an imperial dynasty in Russia.

He described himself as an ambitious boy who had a happy childhood. But even from a young age, Jutting displayed feelings of superiority and entitlement, his defence argued. He was admitted to the prestigious private school Winchester College in his early teens but was disappointed that he ranked sixth in the scholarship selection, rather than first.

When his mother expressed delight at his entrance exam results, Jutting commented that he found her reaction "almost insulting", because it implied that she was surprised he had got in.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jutting has been transported to and from court in a police motorcade, such is the high profile nature of this case in the city

There were other troubling episodes. When he was 16, his father tried to take his own life by slashing his wrists while he was in the house. Jutting had to help provide the initial care and go to hospital with him.

Jutting also said he had been sexually assaulted by another student while studying at Winchester. In 2003, he was seen by a psychiatrist, who said he experienced suicidal thoughts and that he was affected by knowledge of his parents' marital problems and concerns about his mother's health.

Nonetheless, Jutting excelled academically, being admitted to Cambridge University to study history and law at Peterhouse college. A fellow of the college, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC Mr Jutting was ambitious, a keen athlete, committed to his studies and from a stable Catholic background.

British banker guilty of murders

Killed by Jutting and forgotten by Indonesia

'We were lucky it wasn't us' (video)

Jutting gained first class honours in his history degree but was disappointed to receive a 2:1 in law, and challenged the examiner's approach. The inability to accept criticism, psychiatrists said, was another sign of his narcissistic personality traits.

On graduation, Jutting worked at Barclays bank, before being head-hunted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. His role involved developing complex tax products and, within a few years, his salary had risen to £270,000 ($334,705) per year.

But then, things began to go wrong.

In 2012, while trying to market a tax product in Luxembourg, auditors began investigating his team for possible violation of regulations, flagging up Jutting in particular as a serious risk to the organisation. Jutting described this as a "negative turning point" in his career and felt his move to Hong Kong the subsequent year had been arranged by bosses to get him out of the way.

At one point, his manager told Jutting he was one of the most unpredictable people he had ever worked with.

Nihilistic spiral in Hong Kong

Jutting's alcohol use was also uncontrollable around this time, as he needed to drink excessive amounts in order to get to sleep. His then-girlfriend was so worried about his reliance on alcohol she banned him from drinking at home. He briefly saw a psychiatrist at this point, and said he often felt down and tearful at work.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih were migrant workers from Indonesia

By the time he had moved to Hong Kong in October 2013, he was consuming three quarters of a bottle of vodka to sleep and using cocaine. He said he smuggled cocaine up his rectum on his flight to Hong Kong.

Once in Hong Kong, he rented a flat in The J Residence, a luxury development in Wanchai popular with expatriate workers. Although located in a busy street in the heart of the city, the development gives off a sense of exclusivity. Keycards are needed to access individual floors, while the sheer height of the building, at over 41 floors, means that residents can enjoy views of Hong Kong's skyline - from the bar, garden, and even swimming pool on the roof.

Image caption The plush rooftop bar at the apartment block where Jutting lived, a sign of the exclusive lifestyle led by Jutting

But Jutting described himself as feeling increasingly despondent and nihilistic in the city. He did not have much of a social life and spent long periods drinking at home while playing computer games.

Jutting also had extreme sexual interests, and an obsession with sadistic pornography, experts said. He began using sex workers in 2009 and as time went on his behaviour became increasingly forceful. On a number of occasions, he removed condoms during sex without their consent, despite knowing this would constitute rape in the UK.

Jutting continued to fantasise about rape and kidnap even while he was remanded in a psychiatric centre after his arrest, prosecution expert Dr Kavin Chow said.

Image copyright OTHERS
Image caption Rurik Jutting with a group of women. He has described his fantasies of torturing women to psychiatrists

By 2014, he was "spiralling out of control". He would go on cocaine binges that lasted for days. At one point, he missed a scheduled meeting in London and, as an excuse, he told his boss he had HIV. He developed a round-the-clock craving for the drug, his weight ballooned and in the weeks before the killings took place he stopped going to work. Instead, he spent hours watching and reading violent pornography.

He attempted to find men on Grindr to have sex with, later telling a psychologist he had been "trying to do everything I could to get new experiences", but described everything as "disappointing".

Brutality of the killings

On 25 October 2014 Jutting took Ms Ningsih to his flat, after offering to pay her for sex.

They had had sex on one occasion before, in a hotel, but things had got so violent that Ms Ningsih asked to end the session early, and refunded half his money. On this second occasion, the sex also switched from consensual to non-consensual, as Jutting began to beat Ms Ningsih.

Image caption Sumarti Ningsih's father has spoken of the family's grief since her killing

He then held her captive, and tortured her using pliers, his belt, sex toys and his hands. He filmed some of the torture on his phone, in footage that was shown to the jury. The details that follow are distressing and brutal.

Jutting claims he drifted in and out of the influence of cocaine: "When I became relatively less under the influence of cocaine I became quite apologetic - I told her repeatedly I loved her," he said in one police interview. Yet, in another interview, he said that he hadn't tortured Ms Ningsih as much as he would have liked, before killing her.

He killed her on the third day, after he made her kneel in front of the toilet bowl, with her hands tied behind her back, and lick the bowl. He then cut her throat with a knife but Ms Ningsih did not die immediately, so her dragged her into the shower and continued.

Jutting recorded several videos describing the aftermath of the killing on his phone. Eventually, he wrapped up the body and placed it into a suitcase, which he left on the balcony.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ns Ningsih's casket was brought back to Jakarta in November 2014 and she was buried in her home village

Jutting began planning to torture a second victim on 31 October. He bought tools, including sandpaper, nails and a blow torch, filming them on his iPhone, describing how he might use them to torture a victim.

That night, he went out and met Ms Mujiasih, inviting her back to his flat for sex. They began kissing and cuddling on the sofa but Ms Mujiasih began shouting when she saw a gag by the sofa. Jutting held a knife against her throat, telling her he would kill her if she continued to struggle. She continued struggling, and he killed her by slashing at her neck.

He later told police: "She was simply, the word I'd use is prey. I was hunting for prey and she was unfortunately the person who was hunted".

After taking more cocaine, he says he contemplated taking his own life. He eventually called 999. He also called his boss, saying: "I'm in a lot of trouble, you need to do something about the reputation of the bank."

Image copyright AP

Even though he had not been to work in the two weeks leading up to the killings, the office was still on his mind.

After he killed Ms Ningsih, he changed the out-of-office message from his work email to: "I am out of the office. Indefinitely. For urgent enquiries, or indeed any enquiries, please contact someone who is not an insane psychopath. For escalation please contact God, though suspect the devil will have custody. [Last line only really worked if I had followed through..]"

On one occasion, according to an expert witness, Jutting likened his life to The Truman Show, a movie starring Jim Carrey about a man who's entire life, unbeknownst to him, is a TV show.

This too may reflect his narcissism because Jutting wanted to believe that "his life was so significant that… millions of people would be interested in watching it".

He is now likely to spend much if not all of it in jail.

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