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Singapore Hangs British Killer Who Chopped Up Victim’s Body

April 19, 1996 GMT

SINGAPORE (AP) _ A British fugitive convicted of killing and dismembering a South African tourist was hanged Friday, the first Westerner executed in Singapore for murder.

John Martin Scripps, 36, had refused to appeal his conviction. His lawyer said he wanted to get over with it quickly.

Scripps was also implicated in two murders in Thailand and another in Mexico.

Changi Prison officials confirmed the execution but provided no other details. Reporters were barred from the prison.

But in keeping with Singapore’s execution rules, the lanky Scripps would have been led out of his cell to the gallows just before dawn. Hangings are carried out with a black cloth sack covering the condemned prisoner’s head.

The mild-mannered Scripps confessed to killing tourist Gerard George Lowe, 32, but denied responsibility for the other murders.

``How did I not know my own son,″ his mother Jean was quoted as saying in British newspapers after his conviction in November. ``We’ll never be able to forget what a madman he turned into.″

Singapore, which has a mandatory death sentence for murder and drug trafficking, has executed at least 149 people since 1975.

The only other Westerner executed in Singapore was Johannes Van Damme of the Netherlands, who was hanged in 1994 for drug smuggling.

Scripps, who was sharing a hotel room with Lowe, was convicted of clubbing him to death with a hammer on March 8, 1995, then dismembering the body and dumping its parts in a river.

Scripps claimed he was defending himself against a homosexual assault and denied cutting up the body.

But he was caught with Lowe’s passport and credit cards, which he used for a shopping spree.

Scripps had been imprisoned in Britain for drug trafficking but fled while on a a weekend parole in 1994.

Authorities said he went to Mexico where his former wife lived and pleaded with her to join him. She refused.

In Mexico, he was suspected of killing British tourist Timothy McDowell.

After Lowe’s murder, Scripps went to Thailand, where he was suspected of killing Canadian Sheila Damude and her 23-year-old son, Darin. Their bodies were chopped up like Lowe’s.