Dutch tourist has admitted killing British woman, say Indian police

Published: April 7, 2013

Sarah Groves, a British fitness instructor, was found dead after being found aboard a Kashmir houseboat with 45 stab wounds. A Dutch national, Richard De Wit, was arrested Saturday by Indian police. Submitted photo/Facebook

DEAN NELSON
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

A Dutch tourist has confessed to killing a British fitness instructor on a Kashmir houseboat, Indian police claimed Sunday.

A post mortem examination found that Sarah Groves had bled to death from 45 stab wounds and witnesses said the scene was covered in blood.

Richard De Wit, 43, from Holland, was arrested in the early hours of Saturday after he fled the New Beauty houseboat where the 24-year-old personal trainer from Guernsey was found dead.

He had been under the influence of cannabis or heroin, police said.

He appeared before a magistrate in Srinagar yesterday and was formally accused of her murder.

Groves’s boyfriend, Samir Shoda, said he had confronted De Wit at a police station, where officers had asked him to act as an interpreter, and later in their interrogation of the suspect. “I said, ‘You killed her like a devil.’ He said, ‘OK, whatever you think.’ He was looking at me like he wanted to kill me,” he said.

Groves had been staying on the boat for two months after beginning a relationship with the owner’s son while on holiday in Goa.

She was found dead by Adil and Irfan Shoda, sons of the houseboat’s owner AR Shoda, after their mother heard noises in the lake at around 2:30 a.m.

Samir, another son, who normally shared the room with Miss Groves, was away staying with friends.

When the brothers checked the boat, they found the doors to both De Wit’s and Groves’s rooms open and  Groves dead with stab wounds to her neck. They saw De Wit escaping across the lake, they claimed.

He was later arrested in a taxi nearly 50 miles away and taken to Srinagar’s Ram Munshi Bagh police station.

Kashmir’s Deputy Inspector General of Police, Aftal ul Mujtada, yesterday said that De Wit had confessed to killing Groves.

“He has confessed but he has not given any details,” he said. “He said he had taken drugs, he said he had taken cannabis and later he said he had taken ‘brown sugar,’ but he couldn’t remember which.” Blood samples had been taken to establish whether De Wit had been intoxicated.

Mujtada added: “Detectives are not considering any other suspects, but remain interested in anyone who was in the area at the time of the attack, including members of the Shoda family.”

Samir Shoda yesterday said that he had spoken to  Groves’s father, Victor, on Saturday night, describing him as “emotional.” “He was crying … He said, ‘We just want to put this guy in prison for a long time,’” he said.

His mother, Hafiza, said she and Groves had visited Srinagar’s White Mosque together for Friday prayers and later cooked dinner and washed the dishes. “At 12:30 she said, ‘I’m tired. I’m going to sleep.’ I said, ‘You can sleep with me because Samir is not here.’ But she wanted privacy to read her book and she went to her room,” she said.

At 2:30 a.m., she said, she went outside to put on the water heaters and saw their rowing boat “moving from side to side,” she called her sons to investigate.

Irfan said: “The door was already broken, I put my torch on and there was blood everywhere. I couldn’t touch her, I called her but she did not move. There was blood on her neck.” Groves’s friends and family have created an “RIP Sarah Groves” tribute page on Facebook and set up a “Justice for Sarah” blog.

On it, her brother, Tom Groves, called for the family’s privacy to be respected and said: “I realize that I risk sounding like yet another grieving relative here, but please, please, think — if this was your sister or daughter, you’d want justice. She deserved it — she lit up so many peoples lives.”

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