Stevenage man’s murder in Libya was a ‘motiveless crime’, coroner rules

Mark De Salis was shot dead in Libya

Mark De Salis was shot dead in Libya - Credit: Archant

A Stevenage man was murdered abroad in a “motiveless crime”, a coroner has ruled today.

Mark De Salis, who lived in Shackleton Spring, was killed alongside his 47-year-old girlfriend Lynn Howie in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on January 2.

Their bodies were found side-by-side and face down in the sand on a beach near the coastal area of Mellitah.

The body of Mr De Salis, who had worked in Tripoli as project manager for a power station for six years, was flown back to the UK on January 8 where pathologist Dr Nat Cary carried out a post mortem.

He found that the 46-year-old, a former student at The Thomas Alleyne School, had been shot twice in the back of the head from close range.

The pathologist confirmed there was no trace of alcohol or drugs in his blood and he was not suffering from any organ problems or infections.

After Mr De Salis’ death, a joint investigation by British and Libyan authorities was set up to try and establish what happened.

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Det con Andy Philips from the Metropolitan Police was assigned to lead the investigation, although so far no-one has been arrested in connection with the case.

Speaking at an inquest held at The Court House in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, he said: “We worked with Libyan authorities to establish a motive.

“A camera recovered from their bodies showed photos of the couple enjoying a day out in Tripoli. There was no indication of any stress or fear for their well being and we were unable to establish a motive for the crime.

“The British Foreign Office was advising people not to travel to the area at the time and the police in the local area would suggest it was somewhere you would not go.”

The couple had spent the day seeing Roman ruins in the surrounding area and had been having a picnic on the beach when they were shot.

Summing up, coroner Tom Osborne said: “This happened at a time when Libya was in a state of flux but the circumstances were that Mr De Salis was in the wrong place at the wrong time as this appears to be a motiveless crime. I find that he died as a result of an unlawful killing.

“Can I finish by expressing my condolences to his family for the very sad circumstances of his death.”