Borneo UK student killings: Local man convicted of murder

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Image caption Aidan Brunger, left, and Neil Dalton were in the last few days of a six-week medical placement

A Malaysian court has found a local man guilty of murdering two British medical students in Borneo.

Newcastle University students Aidan Brunger and Neil Dalton, both 22, were stabbed in a bar in Kuching, Sarawak, in August 2014.

Fishmonger Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, had denied their murder but admitted being involved in a street fight with them along with two other men.

The penalty for murder in Malaysia is a mandatory sentence of death by hanging.

In a joint statement, the parents of Mr Dalton, from Ambergate, Derbyshire, and Mr Brunger, from Hempstead, Kent, paid tribute to their sons.

Phil and Jan Dalton and Paul Brunger and Sue Hidson spoke of the devastation their deaths had caused.

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Media captionZulkipli Abdullah had denied murder, as Jennifer Pak reports

"They were two exceptional young men with such promise - kind, funny and full of life. Their deaths have left their families and many good friends utterly devastated," it read.

"Our sons would soon have qualified as doctors. Their unprovoked and senseless murders as they were walking home after a night out with other medical students mean that Aidan and Neil will never have the chance to spend their lives caring for and helping others.

"They would have given so much to the world. We are so very proud of both of them and in what they achieved in their all too short lives.

"Although we are pleased that the man responsible for their murders has been held accountable, the guilty verdict does not bring our sons back."

Paul Brunger
Image caption Paul Brunger was in court and said the loss of his son was "devastating"

Jennifer Pak, BBC News, Kuching

The case itself has been very shocking to people here. Many have told us that this is a peaceful place, a tourist town where foreigners are welcome.

People said such violent incidents are rare, and they hope it will not tarnish their image and prevent tourists from coming here in the future.

We spoke to officials at the Sarawak General Hospital and they did not say any students were scared of attending the programme since these murders. They did, however, say they have warned the students to be careful about staying out too late in the bar district.

They have not added any extra security protection for them. They see this as a one-off incident, that it is not common.

Mr Dalton and Mr Brunger had almost completed a work placement at a hospital in Kuching.

They were found sprawled in the road by cafe workers in the Jalan Padungan area of the city, in the early hours of 6 August, last year.

The trial heard Zulkipli Abdullah admitting being involved in a fight with the two students and punched one of them.

But he denied stabbing them or carrying a knife.

He is expected to appeal against the judgement.

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Image caption Zulkipli Abdullah admitted he had been in a fight with the students

Newcastle University has awarded the two students honorary medical degrees.

Medical School Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Jane Calvert, said the student community was "shattered and shocked" by their deaths.

"They were very bright boys who had a great career ahead of them and this was just such a tragedy," she said.

Image caption Dean of Undergraduate Studies Jane Calvert said the student community had been "shattered" by the deaths

"What we have to recognise is that this was the sort of incident that is very difficult to guard against and it's the sort of thing that could happen anywhere."

Students going on placements abroad were briefed by the university on health and safety and every student completed a risk assessment form, Professor Calvert said.

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