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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Tycoon jailed for 10 years
Nicholas Van Hoogstraten
Van Hoogstraten is one of Britain's richest men
One of Britain's richest men, property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the manslaughter of a former business associate.

Van Hoogstraten, 57, remained impassive as the sentence was handed down by Mr Justice Newman, who told him he was "the instigator of a terrifying piece of intimidation".

As the family of the victim, father-of-six Mohammed Raja, left the Old Bailey in tears on Friday, they said: "He should have got life."

Victim Mohammed Raja: Stabbed and shot

Van Hoogstraten was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter by an Old Bailey jury in July after hiring two men to "harm and intimidate" Mr Raja.

The men - David Croke and Robert Knapp - killed the businessman and were sentenced to life for his murder.

The 57-year-old tycoon, from Uckfield in East Sussex, has admitted being ruthless in business and has previous convictions for violence.

But during the trial he labelled claims that he hired the men as hitmen to get back at Mr Raja "nonsense".

Prison letters

The judge told the court on Friday that during the course of the trial he had warned van Hoogstraten not to engage in any "personal abuse" or similar conduct directed towards people who "had a job to do".

After the conviction, he wrote letters from prison protesting his innocence.

In one, to the Evening Argus in Brighton, he said he was expecting to walk free from court because of doubts over the jury's verdict.


We are a bit disappointed that he only got 10 years

Amjad Raja
But before sentencing him, the judge rejected arguments by his lawyer that there was leave to appeal the conviction.

Van Hoogstraten has an estimated 500m fortune, mainly based on property deals.

He spent four years in jail in the 1960s after hiring thugs to throw a grenade into the home of a business associate who he claimed owed him money.

He has also previously been in dispute with ramblers, whom he described as "scum", over a footpath at his 28m Hamilton Palace estate in Sussex.

Family's trauma

Speaking after the verdict, Amjad Raja, a son of Mohammed Raja, said: "We are a bit disappointed that he only got 10 years."

"This has all been very traumatic for the family and it continues to be so."

Amjad Raja said two legal actions by the family against van Hoogstraten would continue.

Detective Superintendent Richard Heselden said of van Hoogstraten: "He has actively sought notoriety to the extent that he became the person he is."

Confirming van Hoogstraten will pursue every avenue of appeal, the disgraced tycoon's lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano said: "Our client has and continues to vehemently deny any involvement whatsoever in the murder of Mr Raja.

"There are no winners or losers in this. Any sentence imposed upon our client will never restore the life of a man who was tragically and brutally murdered."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Bennett-Powell
"The judge told van Hoogstraten he had been considering a life sentence"
Victim's son, Amjad Raja
"We were hoping that he would get life"

Key stories

Trial reports
See also:

25 Oct 02 | England
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