Gendarmerie Nationale de Côte d'Ivoire

Briton’s killers arrested two decades on


Twenty years after the murder of a British businessman in the seaside resort of De Haan two people have been detained.  Hilde Van Acker and Jean-Claude Lacote, who are a couple, have been arrested in Ivory Coast in Africa.



Van Acker and Lacote were convicted of the killing of Marcus Mitchell in absentia in 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Their arrest now brought memories flooding back to the children who found the body of the British businessman in woodland in De Haan so many years ago.

Janus Verrelst was twelve years old in 1996.  Together with classmates he was attending ‘sea classes’ in De Haan.  Pupils from inland stay at the coast for several days and learn more about the local habitat.

“We were in our first year at secondary school and this was a special trip to mark the end of the year.  We had just started a game in woodland when two classmates ran out of the woods saying that they had found a body.”

The couple held responsible for the UK businessman’s murder have been on the run for two decades. The events of so long ago left their mark on the children.  Janus Verrelst: “It was clear our two classmates had really had a nasty experience. It left an impression on us all.  It was exciting.  The police turned up. At the time we were sorry we couldn’t continue our game.  It’s only later you realise what we went through.  I slept in the room with the two boys who had found the body.  Nobody slept a wink.  The Briton died as a result of two shots to the head.  It can’t have been a pretty sight.”

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