KASHMIR – Sarah Groves, 24, from Guernsey, was found stabbed to death in the floating hotel she had been staying at for up to two months on the Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir.
She had been staying in the popular tourist destination for over two months when she was attacked in the middle of the night, police say.
Many have paid tribute to her on Twitter, while the Foreign Office confirmed it was providing consular assistance to her family.Richard De Wit
Richard De Wit, 43, was arrested after fleeing the scene of a brutal attack on Sarah Groves, who was stabbed 45 times in a houseboat on Srinagar’s Dal lake.
Her father, Victor Groves, has spoken of his grief at being told his daughter had been murdered and said the family had tried to stop her going to Kashmir.
Mr De Wit’s wife, who asked not be named to protect their children, confirmed he had a history of mental problems, but had never been violent or threatening.
He believed the Dutch police and authorities were “out to get him” and that his government-appointed psychologist had colluded with them, she told The Daily Telegraph in Rotterdam.
In fear that the police would take him into custody, he left his Thai wife of 10 years and their two daughters, aged 12 and 10, and embarked on a journey across African and Asia to avoid “arrest”, she said.
Over the last six months, he travelled first to Kenya and Tunisia, stopping off in Switzerland at Christmas, and arrived earlier this year in Delhi, India.
He called his family for the last time two days his arrest in the early hours of Saturday morning. Mr De Wit had fled the New Beauty houseboat after the murder and was arrested, police said, in a taxi having swam to shore.
“Richard is innocent. I can’t believe he would do something like this. He never used drugs or drank alcohol,” Mrs de Wit, 31, said.
“I know he has some psychological problems … He is just a nice guy to us, to the children and everybody. He gets angry with himself sometimes and doesn’t know what to do, but I’ve never seen him violent,” she said.
“It is very difficult for the children. He is a very peaceful, family man who loves his daughters more than anything else in the world.”
The couple had met in Thailand where he had been on holiday and had married 13 years ago, she said. He had not worked because of his mental problems, which had become more acute recently, and the legacy of severe head injuries from a motorcycle accident almost 20 years ago.The houseboat where Sarah Groves was found murdered
Describing his decision to leave Holland and go travelling, funded by compensation payments from the accident, she said: “This has been a problem in his life. He is always running away from things. He feels stress and he runs. He is frightened people want to arrest him.
“If he had just come home everything would be better and maybe nothing would have happened. His daughters miss him. It’s very difficult, no one is helping us,”
Aftul ul Mujtaba, Srinagar’s Deputy Inspector General, said Mr De Wit had confessed to the murder, but had given no details or explanation for it. He had told them he had been under the influence of either Cannabis or Heroin at the time.
Mr Groves, from Guernsey, said he was woken on Saturday morning at 5.45am by a call from India.
“The voice on the other end was a very rough Indian accent and he said: ‘Mr Groves, your daughter is dead, she has been murdered’,” he said. “That’s where we are now and, sadly, where we will always be.”
He said that family members had pleaded with Sarah to continue her journey to Sri Lanka, rather than staying in Kashmir with her boyfriend, Saeed Ahmed Shoda, 26, who she had met in Goa. “She went north instead. We tried so hard to stop her going,” he said.
“We weren’t happy when she changed her plans to go there (Kashmir), but we were ultimately reassured,” said Mr Groves. “It is nothing against the guy himself but sadly she met somebody and instead of going to Sri Lanka she went north instead.”