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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Duped by 'Captain Cash'
by Chris Summers
BBC News

Two people have been convicted of murdering a family of five, and another of the murder of one of the family members, in a crime motivated by greed. The bodies were initially buried on land owned by "Chelsea girl" Belinda Brewin, who was duped by the gang's leader.

Belinda Brewin
Belinda Brewin, right, supported Paula Yates at the funeral of Michael Hutchence
Belinda Brewin is no stranger to the media spotlight.

She was a close confidante of TV presenter Paula Yates and comforted her in the aftermath of the suicide of singer Michael Hutchence in 1997.

Ms Brewin was one of the last people to see Yates alive when the star died of a drugs overdose in September 2000, and she comforted the star's children at her funeral.

She first met Kenneth Regan in 1997 at a London nightclub.

Regan, who was convicted on Friday of the murder of five members of the Chohan family, revelled in the nickname "Captain Cash" and was making his living smuggling hard drugs into Britain, something which he kept from Ms Brewin.

Anthony Arlidge, QC, defending Regan's co-defendant Bill Horncy, told the Old Bailey trial: "She is smart, slim, drove a powerful sports car and frequented the top-floor bar at Harvey Nichols.

"She was friends with the son of a well-known comedian. She had a seven-bedroomed, 15th century house, horses and children at private school."

Belinda Brewin
She is smart, slim, drove a powerful sports car and frequented the top-floor bar at Harvey Nichols
Anthony Arlidge QC

Mr Arlidge said Ms Brewin was a "Chelsea girl" who enjoyed partying in London nightclubs.

Regan had befriended her and offered to take her to Monte Carlo for the grand prix and buy her a 4,000 Cartier watch. She refused both.

In 1998 Regan was caught by police in possession of 30kg of heroin. He turned supergrass and was jailed for eight years, the minimum possible sentence.

Ms Brewin's taste for the high life soured after Yates' death and she decided to move away from the capital.

She bought a farmhouse near Tiverton in Devon and it was this that unwittingly bought Regan back into her life.

When Regan came out of prison in 2002 - having served half of his sentence - he renewed his acquaintance with Ms Brewin.

In early 2003 he was planning to kill Amarjit Chohan and his family to take over the freight business and use it as a front for a drugs smuggling business.

Harvey Nichols
Belinda Brewin met Regan at the bar in Harvey Nichols

His ears must have pricked up when Ms Brewin told him about her lonely farmhouse, surrounded by fields, in leafy Devon.

Regan had already sounded out a friend in Wales about the possibility of finding some land and when he heard about Ms Brewin's farm he decided it would be the perfect place for a mass grave.

Regan completely duped Ms Brewin, who he also installed as managing director at Mr Chohan's firm, Ciba Freight, after the businessman vanished.

'Acceptable front'

Michael Gledhill QC, defending Peter Rees, said Regan exaggerated the depth of their relationship while using her as the "acceptable front" for his scheme.

Mr Gledhill said: 'He told people he was in a deep sexual relationship with her, a complete lie."

Unfortunately Regan chose exactly the right moment to target Ms Brewin, who was highly vulnerable.

Mr Gledhill said: "She and her partner had moved down to Devon, selling up in London. Then her partner left her with the whole of the mortgage and school fees to pay.

She was certainly vulnerable. A suggestion to earn money was a quick fix. The phrase she used was 'needs must'
Michael Gledhill QC

"She was certainly vulnerable. A suggestion to earn money was a quick fix. The phrase she used was 'needs must'.

"He was someone she should not have touched with a barge pole. But she was sufficiently vulnerable that needs must."

She was offered a job as managing director of Ciba Freight - working two days a week for 6,000 a month.

The money came from Ciba's accounts, not Regan's own pocket, and Ms Brewin was as unsuspecting as the company's other employees.

Regan told her the Chohans had sold up and left Britain because they were receiving threats as a result of Mr Chohan's involvement in the smuggling of khat, a narcotic shrub, to the US.

Drainage ditch

Mr Arlidge said: "Regan was using her and repaid that use by burying at least one body on her land."

Ms Brewin told the court she was astonished when she arrived back at the farm in Devon one day in February 2003 and found Regan, Horncy and Rees working on a drainage ditch in her field.

She had mentioned the drainage problem but had not asked Regan to fix it.

Ms Brewin said she had noticed charred remains near one end of the hole, and also noticed a "ferocious fire" had taken place nearby.

She said: "I was furious. I could not tell what had been burnt."

Two months later she discovered the truth when police arrived to excavate the ditch.

A police van at the search site in Devon
The bodies were buried in a field on Ms Brewin's land

By then the bodies had already been dug up and thrown in the sea, but police found scraps of clothing and DNA belonging to at least one of the victims.

The court heard she wrote in her diary: "Really, really shocked. Very sad, could not stop crying."

She told the jury: "I was upset about what had happened - not for myself but for Amarjit."

Ms Brewin, who broke down in tears under cross-examination when asked about Paula Yates, told the court she had signed a deal with publishers to write her autobiography, which would feature the Chohan case and her friendship with the TV presenter.

She is also understood to have signed an exclusive deal for her story with a daily newspaper.


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