Friday, 07. March 2014 - 13:03
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03. 10. 12. - 12:00
A German BMW technician has been jailed for the "cold and calculating" murder of his lover and illegitimate daughter to hide his infidelity from his British girlfriend who he wanted to start a family with.
Gunnar Doerries, 44, fell in love with British aircraft engineer Prapti Utami, 47, while working in London on designing the interior of the new Mini for BMW in London in 2002. The pair had met at a fitness studio in the capital.
But when he was later sent back to Germany he started another relationship with Georgina Zito, 30, at the same time as keeping up his relationship with his British girlfriend.
When Georgina got pregnant the court heard how Doerries had invited her to go on holiday with him to discuss the future, and then murdered her in front of their 21-month-old baby daughter Alexandra. He denied murder but was convicted yesterday (Monday) after a six month trial and jailed for life.
The court heard he had planned the crime a month before including selecting a remote beach, but was spotted by a pensioner who described in his testimony at the Munich court how he had seen the woman fighting for her life.
Eye witness 75-year-old Renzo Ríos Argüello said he would never forget what he saw on 10 July 2010 on the Praia Do Canavial beach in Lagos, Portugal.
In tears he told the court: "I don't think the man saw me sitting there – I watched a couple with a young child arrive and then the couple went in the water and seemed to be splashing water over each other.
"I was about 80 metres away and then I saw how he seemed to be fighting with her and pushed her underwater. First I couldn't believe what I was seeing and when he had held under water for two or three minutes I thought she can't possibly be alive.
"I went over there and thought she must be dead – nobody could survive underwater that time. I asked him if there was a problem and he screamed at me – 'no way, go away'. He was extremely angry and aggressive. He had scratch wounds all over his body and he was dragging the woman, dropping her onto her back on the sand.
"The young child was clearly very distressed and was screaming mummy mummy the whole time. When I looked at the woman she was just lifeless and her eyes were staring and blank. There was foam coming from her mouth and no sign of life.
"Two young men came up then and I told them I think something terrible has happened. I asked one of them if had a mobile phone, and one of them ran off to call emergency services."
The two young men said that the pensioner told them that Doerries had murdered the woman before dressing himself and leaving the beach with the child under his arm.
The German man accused of the murder had tried to drag the body away but as more people turned up, he had abandoned it and run off with the kid – whose body was found eight months later wedged between several boulders.
Prosecutors said Doerries, 44, had decided to act when lover Georgina had demanded financial support for their illegitimate child and had threatened to tell his British partner.
When a secret paternity test confirmed her claims, the German hatched the plan for murder, the court heard. Described as "cold and calculating" he had travelled to Lagos in the Algarve to plan the perfect murder, and a month later contacted Miss Zito and asked her to join him so they could rekindle their relationship.
Sascha Petzold, defending, had asked for an aquittal and said that the witness should have tried to help to stop the murder. He said: "It is conceivable and possible to help, for example by shouting, so that the alleged killer realised he was being observed and stopped what he had planned. Instead he just watched without calling the police or rescue services."
Prosecutor Elisabeth Ehrl said: "Doerries knew that the mother would have fought with all her strength to protect her child and so he realised he had to get rid of her first. But she put up a fierce fight – and scratched and hit him in desperate fight to survive. He was injured on both the arms and the legs."
But despite the German technicians careful planning and selecting a remote, difficult to access beach, the drowning had been witnessed by the OAP.
After the alleged murder the German had grabbed his passport at his hotel and tickets and went straight to the airport where he flew back to Munich. The court heard he left in such haste that he didn't even pack his belongings – sending an e-mail later to the hotel asking them to forward on his luggage and in particular the black shoes that he had left behind.
In the e-mail he wrote that his girlfriend would be remaining for a while in Portugal.
Doerries told police that when he had been called back to Germany he had lost his job with BMW but got a second less well paid job with Audi in Ingolstadt that often sent him to work in Stuttgart, where he had met already married but later divorced Georgina in April 2006.
Asked how the relationship started he said: "You know how it is – after a hard day at work you go back to the hotel and want to relax by drinking a beer. Perhaps eating something. I met her at a music concert and we became friends. She was a really nice person and the meetings became more frequent with breaks of the week whenever I was ordered to return to Munich."
He dumped her the same month that she told him she was pregnant with his daughter, Alexandra.
About the same time his London partner had decided to move to Munich, which he finally agreed to in February 2008 a month after ending the relationship with pregnant Georgina, and he allowed the Englishwoman whose family were from Indonesia to come and live with him in a flat at Hermannstrasse in the Bavarian capital. The same month she became pregnant.
He said: "Two relationships at the same time, it was the absolute horror."
In October 2008, nine months after he ended the relationship with Angolan born Georgina, she called him again to tell him that she had given birth to a daughter. A year later she filed proceedings against him for failure to pay child maintenance. He responded by hiring a lawyer to fight the paternity claim. But when Georgina demanded a paternity test he had managed to obtain a DNA sample, and ordered the evidence destroyed by the laboratory when it came back positive.
At the same time we hatched the plan for the murder, said prosecutors, and in June 2010 he flew to Lagos to scout out the area and finalise the details for the murder. At that time he came upon the isolated and difficult to access beach which he later visited a month later with Georgina and their daughter.
Prosecutor Elisabeth Ehrl said: "Georgina was fed up with with all of his stalling and told him that if he didn't own up to his responsibilities she would let his family and friends know. Terrified that his first love would find out about his second partner and child, he lured them away on the pretence of a holiday to Portugal and killed them. He hoped that by doing so, he would also save the cost of child support and protect his reputation."
In a statement to the court he tried to persuade them about his good character in designing professional door interiors for BMW and described himself as a natural and friendly personality. Asked about his weaknesses he said: "some people describe me as not being punctual enough."
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