A British marine expert was killed for standing up to a gang who tried to cash in on false claims that Somali pirates had attacked their ships, an inquest heard.
David Mockett defied the “bully boys” and paid for it with his life when a bomb blew apart his car as he drove from work in Aden in July last year, the hearing was told.
He had been investigating the Brilliante Virtuoso, a Liberian registered oil tanker allegedly attacked by Somali pirates 20 miles off the Yemen coast. In an email to his wife, Cynthia, 65, Mr Mockett had said that he “could not find any evidence of bullet holes or exposure to grenades”.
After his death, Mrs Mockett spoke to one of her husband’s friends, John Murphy, who claimed that Mr Mockett had been killed “because of his investigation” into the tanker.
She said that Mr Murphy told her two other ships had the same captain as the Brilliante Virtuoso and both had also allegedly been attacked by Somali pirates, which was described as ‘unusual’.
Mr Mockett had been in the Middle East for 34 years and Aden for the past decade.
Det Supt Jonathan Tottman, from Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism squad was sent to Aden after being “authorised at the highest level of deployment” by the Government to investigate his death.
He ruled out official Yemeni claims that al-Qaeda was behind the bombing because, he said, such terrorist groups boasted about what they had done.
Mr Tottman told the inquest that Aden and Yemen are “very dangerous places to work” and only a handful of British workers remain there, with no British passport holders left in Aden. “David had obviously upset somebody. Money is a great motivation for people,” he said
Mr Tottman said Mr Mockett’s last job was to investigate “criminal enterprise, piracy on the high seas where a third of the world’s oil goes through at any one time in very busy shipping lanes”.
Somali pirates had made targets of these shipping lanes but a fraud was being operated so insurers would pay out once “attacked” ships had been surveyed for damage and loss, he claimed. “This was a scam and a lot of money was being made,” he told the Plymouth and south Devon coroner Ian Arrow. “David had great integrity and professionalism and would not bow to bully boy tactics.”
Mr Tottman said it was unlikely that anyone would be brought to justice for the attack on 64-year-old Mr Mockett, of Plympton, Devon.
The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.