Caught on CCTV: Moment gay Saudi prince attacked manservant in hotel lift... months before he 'sexually abused and battered him to death'
5th October 2010
Saud Abdulaziz Bin Nasir Al Saud, the grandson of the billionaire King of Saudi Arabia, murdered Bandar Abdulaziz after subjecting him to weeks of physical and sexual abuse, the jury was told.
The royal downed champagne and six 'sex on the beach' cocktails before repeatedly punching his 32-year-old aide in the head, knocking out teeth and leaving him with severe brain injuries in the executive suite they shared at the five star Landmark hotel.
He also strangled him with such force that he fractured bones in his neck and bit him on both cheeks in way that clearly had a 'sexual connotation', the jury was told.
Al Saud, 34, tried to 'cover his tracks' by cleaning up the blood from the attack before raising the alarm and initially told police that Bandar had suffered the injuries in an earlier street robbery in London, the court heard.
He later changed his story and admitted killing Bandar, but denies murder and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent.
The pair arrived in London in December 2009 for the final leg of an extended world holiday after previously visiting Prague, Milan, Marrakesh and the Maldives using the Spartacus International Gay Guide as a travel planner.
Al Saud enjoyed a party lifestyle in the capital, rising late and spending the afternoon shopping before eating out and going to nightclubs until the early hours.
He was spotted flirting with barmen and used male prostitutes at least twice during his stay, the jury was told.
Abdulaziz is pinned against the wall of the lift as Al Saud is seen to throw a punch
The prince told police he was a 'friend and equal' of Bandar, the adopted son of middle class Saudi parents, who accompanied him everywhere.
But the court heard how Bandar travelled in economy on planes while Al Saud went first class, usually walked two steps behind his master and slept most nights on the floor of the hotel room they shared.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said: 'Theirs was a far more complicated relationship than the defendant was prepared to admit and there was an abusive undertone to it.
'Bandar was treated as an aide or servant and there was a far more sinister aspect to the defendant's treatment of the victim.
'He would beat Bandar up and the abuse was not confined to physical violence - there was a sexual element to it as well.'
CCTV footage of an earlier attack was played to the jury showing Al Saud baring his teeth as he subjected Bandar to a barrage of blows with his fists and elbows in the hotel lift on January 22 this year.
Mr Laidlaw said: 'What is also evident from the victim's behaviour is that he had become by this point almost entirely submissive.
'He could not or did not at any stage offer any sort of resistance, attempt to fight back or even to raise his hand to the defendant.'
The attack left Bandar's ear three times its normal size and requiring reconstructive surgery in what a nurse described as the 'worst injury of its kind' she had ever seen.
On the night of his alleged murder the pair went out for a Valentine's night meal together and had planned to go on to either the Chinawhite or Whisky Mist nightclub, both of which are popular with celebrities.
But instead they returned to the hotel at just before midnight and had a few drinks in the bar before going to bed.
A guest staying in the room below recalled hearing the sound of raised voices and what sounded like furniture being knocked over.
The following afternoon Al Saud called a contact at the Saudi Embassy who turned up at the room to find him 'very upset and crying' beside his lifeless servant.
Hotel staff who attended the room soon afterwards recalled Bandar lying dead in the bed as Al Saud sobbed and told an unknown caller on the phone: 'I don't believe it.'
The prince initially told police that he believed Bandar had died from injuries received during a robbery three weeks earlier.
But searches by a pathologist and crime scene examiners discovered that the injuries had been inflicted far more recently.
They also discovered that Al Saud's semen appeared to be on Bandar's underpants and that the servant's blood was found on Al Saud's pants, the court was told.
Despite this, Al Saud continued to deny that he was gay.
But Mr Laidlaw said: 'The evidence establishes quite conclusively that he is either gay or that he has homosexual tendencies.
'It is clear that his abuse of Bandar was not confined simply to physical beatings.
'There is clear evidence, over and above the bite marks, that there was also a sexual element to his mistreatment of the victim.'
The court had heard that a trainee manager at the hotel, Sebastian Bianchi, described the prince as 'quite effeminate in his manner' and that other staff believed that he and Bandar were in a gay relationship.
On another occasion a waiter taking champagne to the prince's room saw him with a man of European appearance dressed only in brightly-coloured boxer shorts.
A search of the prince's laptop also revealed he looked at gay massage and escort agency websites, jurors were told.
A Brazilian escort and a gay masseur both told police that they performed sex acts on the prince in his room.
Mr Laidlaw said there was evidence that the prince and Bandar may have occasionally shared the double bed.
'This fits in with some photographs of Bandar which were recovered from the defendant's telephone after his arrest,' the prosecutor added.
Al Saud's mother is the daughter of King Abdullah. Al Saud's father, Prince Abdulaziz, who is the nephew of the King, watched the start of the trial from the public gallery.
Dressed in a white shirt and black jacket, his shaven headed son sat in the dock listening closely to the proceedings with the help of an Arabic interpreter.