The son of a Swiss gallery owner who pushed a candle down his Brit pal’s throat and strangled him after hallucinating he was an alien has appealed to have his 12-and-a-half year sentence overturned.
Wealthy Bennet von Vertes, 34, who was an art dealer who traded work by artists including Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol, had his two lawyers file an appeal this week at the High Court in Zurich over the conviction following the murder in December 2014 of 23-year-old Alex Morgan.
During the original trial the court in Meilen, near Zurich, heard how he had invited his friend to his parents’ villa in the posh lakeside area of Kuesnacht.
The art dealer’s parents were away, holidaying in the Engadine Alpine resort, where many high-flyers from around the world like to ring in the New Year.
Von Vertes and Morgan, who graduated from the prestigious Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun – once attended by Prince Charles – had spent the night out on the town in Zurich, returning to the villa at about 4am.
Once back, the two got into a fight, which ended with Von Vertes killing Morgan.
Von Vertes, who has admitted committing the murder, insisted through his lawyers he had been hallucinating after taking a cocktail of drugs and alcohol, and had thought his friend was an alien trying to kill him.
He was also found guilty of raping a former girlfriend two months before the murder in an incident that took place in a hotel room in London, as well as a range of cases of sexual assault.
Von Vertes who holds British and German citizenship is requesting that he be acquitted on the grounds that before carrying out the killing he had consumed cocaine and ketamine and was in a psychotic state suffering from severe delusions.
They highlighted the fact that he had seen his victim as an alien with a green face, red eyes and long ears. He also maintains that he did not rape his former girlfriend.
With reference to the killing, speaking of the dead man, he said: “I think of him every day and about the killing that was committed.” He added: “I loved him like a brother”.
He confirmed that he had been assigned therapy in jail to cope with his drug addiction but added: “I would prefer to undergo the therapy and freedom. I will do everything I can to stop taking drugs. They were the biggest mistake of my life.”
Describing his life in jail he said that he works making cardboard boxes and binding books, and in his spare time plays chess and is doing a distance learning course in property management. He said he also receives weekly visits from family and friends.
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