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Heinous crime: Engineer murdered.

A father's last farewell to his four-year-old son ended in tragedy after a Dubai-based engineer was stabbed and clubbed to death by a group of men allegedly hired by his former girlfriend to kill him in southern Philippines.

The remains of Philip Andrew Aitken, 45, a British-Ausralian, who worked as a roving engineer for Aggreko Middle East, a power company based in Jebel Ali, was positively identified by forensic experts in Davao City this week.

The findings were confirmed by the Australian Embassy in Manila.

"The Australian Embassy confirms that a 45-year-old Australian-British dual national man from Western Australia, was reported missing in the Philippines on 20 October 2008," the statement said.

The Australian Embassy added that staff from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra is providing consular assistance to Aitken's family which is based in Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

"The victim's family is expected to arrive here anytime soon to claim the body," Senior Superintendent Ramon Apolinario, chief of the Davao City Police Office, told XPRESS.

Derek Shepherd, General Manager of Aggreko Middle East, said they will arrange the repatriation of the victim's remains once it gets released from the police mortuary. Company executives are also planning to attend Aitken's funeral in the UK, Shepherd added.

"We are very sad. People here are upset. He is a very good employee, young and highly-motivated," Shepherd said of Aitken who worked on the company's international projects for five years.

Case solved

Police said four of the five suspects in Aitken's grisly murder, including her former girlfriend, Corazon D., are in detention. They were formally charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder before the prosecutor's office last Friday.

The investigating fiscal has directed the accused to file their counter-affidavits within 15 days, said Apolinario.

The police official said a certain Jay-R, whom investigators tagged as the one who fatally hit the victim's head with a lead pipe, has sent "surrender feelers" through his family.

"He is still considered 'dangerous' and we already told Jay-R's parents that it's better for him to give up and face the consequences than live the life of a fugitive," Apolinario said.

Corazon claimed that she hired Jay-R to kill the victim and paid him P35,000 (Dh2,631) to do the job.

Police said Aitken was possibly murdered on October 20, the day he was supposed to board his flight for Manila en route to Dubai.

When he failed to report for work, his employers engaged the services of a security company to coordinate the search with Philippine authorities, said Shepherd.

"We immediately formed a special task force after we received a letter dated October 31 from Tracy Batterbury, First Secretary and Consul at the Australian Embassy, asking us to help look for Aitken after they got confirmation from immigration authorities that he did not leave the country," Apolinario said.

Senior Superintendent Francisco Villaroman of the Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, meanwhile said they had to act swiftly as even the Interpol had been alerted on the case.

The Australian Embassy in Manila likewise, sent a team to Davao City to observe the investigation.

Foul smell

Police said Corazon initially denied that Aitken had been at her house, but a foul smell coming from the front yard aroused the policemen's suspicion.

"The foul smell coming from the yard and the testimonies of the residents in the neighbourhood made us suspicious that the victim was hidden there," Apolinario said.

Corazon then broke down and reportedly admitted to having had the victim killed and pointed to the exact location where he was buried.

"With the Scene of the Crime Operatives and the presence of the Australian consul, we dug the place and discovered the handcuffed body of the victim, and so we effected the arrest of the suspects given our personal knowledge of the crime," Villaroman said

Aitken's body was already decomposing when police dug up the three-feet deep grave. The victim's hands and feet were tied together and his body wrapped in plastic.

An autopsy report said the victim was stabbed several times and was hit with hard objects on the head and body. After burying him, the suspects poured concrete on the grave in an attempt to hide the body, but the foul odour gave them away, police said.

Rocky relationship

Police said the couple started living together in 2003, but their relationship had been on the rocks since 2006. The victim had threatened to leave her and take their four-year-old son with him to Australia.

A police investigation report said Aitken arrived Manila on September 27 and went to Davao City on October 5.

During his stay in the city, Aitken visited a pub where he allegedly confided to the joint's British owner about his rift with Corazon over her lavish lifestyle and custody of their child.

On October 20, the victim checked out of his hotel and visited his child at his former girlfriend's house in an upscale village and was never seen since, the police report revealed.

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Nov 13, 2008
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