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Inquest into deaths of Aidan Brunger and Neil Dalton in Borneo

Two medical students fatally stabbed in an unprovoked attack in Borneo were unlawfully killed, an inquest has concluded.

Newcastle University students Aidan Brunger, from Gillingham, and Neil Dalton, from Ambergate in Derbyshire, were killed in Kuching, Sarawak on the island of Borneo in August last year.

The country's high court sentenced Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, to death for the murder in March.

Aidan Brunger, who was killed in Borneo
Aidan Brunger, who was killed in Borneo

Today's hearing into the deaths of the two men, both 22, was held at the Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner's Court.

It heard evidence from pathologist Michael Biggs who said both 22-year-olds suffered "sharp force injuries".

Mr Brunger suffered a stab wound to the left side of the chest, while Mr Dalton was found to have two stab wounds to the chest and a further two to the back.

Senior coroner for Derby and Derbyshire Robert Hunter said there was only one verdict he could deliver, and that was unlawful killing.

He said: "We have heard that Neil and Aidan were very accomplished academically.

"They showed brilliance in their studies, but both also enjoyed sports and were very active in charitable works.

"References from their friends and tutors show they were very well liked and showed great promise in becoming established doctors.

"They underwent an eight-week medical training programme as part of their degree, which can be done anywhere in the world.

Aidan Brunger outside the hospital in Sarawak
Aidan Brunger outside the hospital in Sarawak

"There's no indication from the Foreign Office that the area they went to was unsafe and the university has been sending students there for a number of years.

"When the attack happened they were approaching the end of their placement in Borneo. They were out having a good time.

"When they were five minutes away from their hostel they were approached by a male who randomly produced a knife and began attacking them.

"Based on medical evidence I conclude these were two unlawful killings - Aidan was killed by a single stab wound to the chest and Neil was killed by two stab wounds to the chest.

"It's my understanding from the Malaysian authorities he stood a full criminal trial and has been found guilty of both murders.

"I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of both men. It's a tragedy that their lives were lost in these circumstances.

"There were great hopes for them.

"There's nothing I can say to ease how you feel but the light that they shone far outweighs the darkness that befell them last year.

"That light will continue to shine in their hearts.

"The good they did in their short lives is far more than a lot of people do in their entire lives."

In statement read out on his behalf Paul Brunger, Aidan's father, said: "My son had a great passion for sport and avidly followed football and cricket and played both at Newcastle University.

Aidan Brunger, who was killed in Borneo
Aidan Brunger, who was killed in Borneo

"He was also a lifelong Newcastle United fan and loved his time at university.

"Over 500 people came to his funeral and over £10,000 has been raised in his memory for the Anthony Nolan Trust - a charity he supported.

"He was on the path to becoming an exceptional doctor. He had a girlfriend who is also studying medicine at Newcastle University. His death has left her broken.

"There are no waking moments when he is not on my mind. I keep expecting him to walk through the door.

"I want justice not revenge for the murder of my son. I hope the Malaysian authorities can give me that and that they can learn from this."

"There are no waking moments when he is not on my mind. I keep expecting him to walk through the door" - Paul Brunger

His mum Susan Hidson, 51, added: "When he was on his placement abroad I spoke to him almost every day and he was enjoying his time there.

"He told me how friendly the local people were and Aidan immersed himself in the national culture.

"He had a large group of friends. Many of them have told us since his death that he inspired them to achieve their potential.

"Doctors who worked with him said he was an exceptional young man and they had no doubt he would have become an excellent doctor.

"His death has left a massive hole in our lives. I am struggling to see how life can go on. I feel as a mother I should have been able to keep him safe."

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