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Swiss art dealer jailed for ‘alien hallucination’ murder

A Swiss art dealer who strangled and beat his British friend to death with a candlestick holder after hallucinating he was an alien during a drug-fuelled party has been jailed for 12 and a half years.

The court in Meilen, near Zurich, also found the man guilty of raping a former girlfriend two months before the murder, as well as a range of cases of sexual assault, the ATS news agency reported Wednesday.

The court did not give the 32-year-old perpetrator’s name, but British media have identified him as Bennet von Vertes, the son of a wealthy aristocratic Zurich art gallery owner, who also ran his own contemporary art gallery in the city.

He also holds British and German citizenship, according to the Blick daily.

On December 30, 2014, his victim, identified by media as 23-year-old British national Alex Morgan, had been visiting von Vertes’s family villa in the swanky Kuesnacht municipality, on the “gold coast” of Lake Zurich.

The art dealer’s parents were away, holidaying in the Engadine Alpine resort, where many rich and famous 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 around 4:00 am.

Once back, the two had gotten into a fight, which ended with von Vertes strangling and beating Morgan to death with a massive candlestick holder.

Von Vertes, who has admitted 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.

The judges however did lend credence to his explanation, describing the murder as “cruel and violent,” according to ATS.

The judges did meanwhile take into consideration that von Vertes had acted under the influence of drugs, handing him a lesser sentence than the 16 years requested by the prosecution.