By Farah Master
HONG KONG (Reuters) - A lawyer for a former British banker who was jailed for life in Hong Kong for the murder of two Indonesian women he tortured and raped said on Tuesday that the judge who presided over the gruesome trial last year had misdirected the jury.
Rurik Jutting, 32, a former Bank of America employee, has applied for leave to appeal against his conviction in the former British colony's Court of Appeal.
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Jutting denied murdering Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, in his luxury apartment in 2014 on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to alcohol and drug abuse and sexual disorders.
The Cambridge-educated Jutting pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in a case that gripped the Asian financial hub.
The jury unanimously found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to life in prison in November last year.
Jutting, dressed in a pale blue shirt, appeared calm and watched as his lawyer Gerard McCoy argued that the judge had "wrongly and prescriptively directed the jury".
McCoy argued the judge had conflated an abnormality of mind with a psychiatric disorder.
"Abnormality of mind is absolutely not confined to a disorder or a disease. Here the judge locks it down, reinforcing to the jury it is disorder," he said.
"The ground of appeal is that the judge wrongly directed the jury as to the true meaning of abnormality of the mind," McCoy said.
Deputy High Court Judge Michael Stuart-Moore said in strongly worded closing remarks at the end of the trial last year that the case was one of the most horrifying the Chinese-ruled territory had known.
He described Jutting as the "archetypal sexual predator" who represented an extreme danger to women, especially in the sex trade, and cautioned that it was possible he would murder again if freed.
Lawyers for Jutting, the grandson of a British policeman in Hong Kong and a Chinese woman, had previously argued that cocaine and alcohol abuse, as well as personality disorders of sexual sadism and narcissism, had impaired his ability to control his behaviour.
The prosecution rejected this, stating Jutting was able to form judgements and exercise self-control before and after the killings, filming his torture of Ningsih on his mobile phone as well as hours of footage in which he discussed the murders, binging on cocaine and his graphic sexual fantasies.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Robert Birsel, James Pomfret and Paul Tait)