It started as a friendship and became a successful business partnership, but within 12 years things would turn so sour that it would end in quadruple murder.
Jeff and Helen Ding met Anxiang Du and his wife Can Chen in the 1990s. They became friends, and decided to set up a Chinese medicine shop in Coventry.
The business was profitable, but soon the relationship between the two families had begun to disintegrate. After an incident involving the police in 2001, Anxiang Du and his wife were dismissed from the company.
Then began a bitter legal dispute that would last for more than a decade. The Dus wanted their cut of shares and profits, and initially sealed a victory in the courts. In 2007 the Dings were ordered pay the Dus about £100,000.
Yet the battle went on, and things soon turned in the Dings’ favour. By April 2011 the Dus had exhausted all means of legal appeal, and were left owing costs of £88,000.
In 2012, we spoke to the Dings’ friend and business partner Paul Delaney, who described the Dus' determination over the case.
– Paul Delaney
"They would never give up. They kept appealing and appealing. It finally went up to the Supreme Court, and finally the Supreme Court said no that is the end of it, you can't appeal any more. That is when we issued the writ against him to reclaim our costs"._
On the 28th of April 2011, an injunction preventing Anxiang Du from dissipating his assets was posted through the door of his home in Coventry. By the next morning, it seems he had reached desperation. Leaving a goodbye note for his wife and son, he set off for Northampton. He was already carrying the knife, and his passport.
On the 29th of April 2011, the day of the royal wedding, Anxiang Du carried out what was described in court as a massacre. The jury was told he had arrived at the Dings’ home in Wootton, and gone in through the open garage door. They heard how in the kitchen he had attacked Jeff and Helen Ding with a knife. He found 12-year-old Alice and 18-year-old Xing in a bedroom upstairs, and also stabbed them to death.
Dr Nadia Wager, a lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, explains how anger could have provoked such a frenzied attack.
– Dr Nadia Wager, University of Bedfordshire
“Anger is a very natural emotion in all of us… And it can bubble in us where we’re least expecting it, particularly in somebody that is used to controlling themselves. It appears to me that he has done that by pursuing a legal case for ten years. When anger can erupt like that it is a way of making us stand up for ourselves when we are being really belittled, but it is sometimes too much for somebody that is not used to experiencing it”.
In July 2012, Anxiang Du was captured in Morocco. In an interview with the foreign office he said he wished he had never left China, where he was born. Instead he now faces an almost certain life sentence here in the UK for brutally ending the lives of four others.