On 29 April 2011, while the nation was excitedly watching the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, Jifeng “Jeff” Ding looked up inside his kitchen in his home in Wootton, Northamptonshire in England and spotted Anxiang Du striding towards him through his back garden. No doubt expecting a confrontation with his former business partner, he had no idea his life was about to be brutally taken from him along with the lives of his entire family.
46-year-old Jeff Ding was a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University’s school of chemical and environmental science. He lived with his wife, 47-year-old Ge ‘Helen’ Ding, and their two daughters, 18-year-old Xing and 12-year-old Alice. Along with his wife, Jeff Ding had been in business with 53-year-old Anxiang Du, running a Chinese herbal medicine shop in Birmingham; with a fourth partner Paul Delaney.
Anxiang Du had brought a civil action against Jeff and Helen Ding for a business deal they had carried out with fourth partner Paul Delaney regarding the sale and lease of their home. It was a long and expensive legal dispute ongoing for over seven years before in the week of the murders Anxiang Du’s final appeal failed and he lost his lawsuit. Ordered to pay over £80,000 in legal costs this, said the prosecution, was the catalyst for his appalling actions against the Ding family that he took just days later.
On the day of the murders, Anxiang Du told his wife he was going to work. Instead, he took the train and then a bus from his home in Coventry to Wootton and made his way to the Ding house. When he arrived he entered the house through the back garden and open kitchen door, he later told his psychiatrist, and found Jeff Ding inside the kitchen. He asked Mr. Ding for the money be believed he was owed he said, but Jeff Ding laughed at him, humiliating Du, which pushed him, he claimed, to lose all control. In those next moments, Anxiang Du stabbed Jeff Ding 23 times. When Helen Ding came running in, he turned his attentions to her, stabbing her 13 times.
“Not content with the slaughter of the parents downstairs, you then went upstairs to the back bedroom where the two young Ding girls were cowering.”
Upstairs, both the Ding children were home and heard the attack on their parents. Xing Ding made a frantic 999 call on her mobile, unable to tell the operator what was happening before Anxiang Du burst into the bedroom the sisters were hiding and stabbed them both to death. Xing was stabbed 11 times and her younger sister 4 times, their terrified screams all heard and recorded through the open phone line to emergency services.
The pathologist testified during Du’s trial that all the Ding family would have died quickly from their injuries due to extensive blood loss. After the murders, Du remained inside the Ding house for more than 6 hours before stealing the family’s Vauxhall Corsa and leaving the scene. It is believed Du searched for his other business partner Paul Delaney after leaving the Ding house but was unable to find him.
The bodies of the Ding family were not found for two days. The 999 call placed by a terrified Xing Ding had not been processed correctly, dispatching officers the wrong address and being closed down when no problems were found at that address, an issue that would be highly criticized after the murders were discovered. A neighbor, concerned for the Ding’s, looked through the kitchen window when he could not get an answer at the front door and could see a body lying on the ground and contacted police.
As police investigators and forensic teams swarmed the Ding family home, Anxiang Du had made his way to London and purchased a one-way coach ticket to Paris. On 4 May 2011, five days after the murders, the police released details and a description of Du, naming him as their prime suspect.
It took 14 months for Anxiang Du to be captured and brought to trial for the murder of four members of the same family. He was finally arrested in Morocco on 7 July 2012 after a construction worker recognized his face from the newspaper appeals and contacted police with his whereabouts. He was brought back to the UK and charged, facing trial for quadruple murder at Northampton Crown Court in November 2013.
“Whilst it is true that you were of previous good character, that can have little if any impact upon the severity of the sentence in view of the horrendous nature of these killings.”
Anxiang Du admitted he had killed the family but claimed he had done so through loss of control and should, therefore, be convicted of manslaughter and not murder. The details of this horrific crime were laid out to the jury along with the harrowing 999 call placed by Xing Ding as she and her sister were being murdered. The jury found Anxiang Du guilty of four counts of murder and he was jailed for life to serve a minimum term of 40 years behind bars.
In his sentencing, the judge told Anxiang Du, “These were cold-blooded murders which in my judgment were premeditated and were considered acts of revenge. You did not lose your self-control in killing Jeff Ding: In effect you executed the man you hated.” With regards to the effect Du’s actions had on the Ding family, the judge commented, “The psychological and emotional impact of the destruction of the entire Ding family upon Jifeng and Helen Ding’s parents and the rest of their families has been truly devastating.”