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Brit couple ‘beaten to death by ISIS fanatics and fed to crocodiles for £37k’

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A British couple were bludgeoned to death and their bodies thrown to crocodiles three people with alleged links to ISIS who then went on a £37,000 spending spree with their credit cards, a court heard.

In February 2018, British botanists Rod Saunders, 74, and his wife Rachel, 63, were beaten to death in a remote forest in South Africa while searching for rare seeds for their mail-order business, Silverhill Seeds.

A court in Durban heard that married couple Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio and Bibi Fatima Patel, kidnapped the couple with the help of their lodger Mussa Ahmed Jackson before putting them in sleeping bags and throwing them off a bridge over a crocodile-infested river.

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The Saunders' remains were discovered days later, but were only identified following DNA testing.

A doctor told the court that examination of the bodies showed evidence what he called “scavenger activity” adding: ”The damage to the bodies suggest that something could have fed on them.

“For example a crocodile due to the lost tissue on the arms, neck and chest."

The court was told that the couple had suffered blunt trauma injuries in a horrific act of violence.

Rod and Rachel Saunders were world renowned botanists, and spent six months each year in remote South African mountains searching for rare Gladioli plant seeds.

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They sold them worldwide through their business, which they ran from Cape Town, and travelled extensively giving lectures and talks on their area of expertise.

But their fateful trip in 2018 would be their last.

The Hawks police squad found a link between the cell phones belonging to the Saunders' and the cell phones of the suspects and arrested the three accused on murder charges.

A search of the trio's homes uncovered an array of ISIS propaganda, including ISIS pamphlets and flags while messages on their phones discussed “killing the kuffar” and saying there was a couple in the forest who would make a “good hunt”.

All three suspects deny the charges.

Rod and Rachel Saunders' passion for the flora of South Africa saw them leave successful careers and set up their business from home, from which they sold highly sought after plant seeds to customers worldwide.

Married couple Del Vecchio and Patel and their lodger Jackson deny kidnap, murder, robbery and theft at Durban High Court.

The trial continues.

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