Home News Murder suspect drew up “shopping list” before killing colleague

Murder suspect drew up “shopping list” before killing colleague


A swimming coach drew up a ”shopping list for murder” including a meat cleaver and claw hammer before killing a colleague, a court heard today.

Suspect drew up shopping list for murder

Martin Sugden, 42, harboured a long-term grudge against South African personal trainer Donovan Van Lill, 29, (pictured) whose body has never been recovered.

Bristol Crown Court heard today that a notebook containing a list of materials needed for the murder and disposal of Mr Van Lill was discovered at Sugden’s home.

Mr Van Lill disappeared suddenly on 3 March last year with no clue to his whereabouts and no body has ever been found.

But Sugden was arrested on 19 March after telling a friend that he had killed, dismembered, burned and crushed Mr Van Lill, the jury was told.

Police discovered notebooks containing lists of targets and setting out items needed to kill his colleague at his home in Stanton St Quintin, Wilts.

The list contained a fork, spade and shotgun, 2 and 2 cartridges, a club hammer, a poncho, a bag to line a car seat, and a green sheet to make lean to.

It also noted a lump hammer, lime, shirt clothes and trainers, rubble bags, bucket, a water container and a note to ”burn my stuff and his stuff”.

Also found was a notebook entitled ‘Begin Again’ which contained ‘warped’ philosophies on justice that should be meted out by the sword of ”knights of good”.

A jury of six men and six women were told that Sugden had written a ”rudimentary shopping list, planning list or agenda for the murder of Donovan Van Lill”.

Christopher Parker, prosecuting, told the court: ”We say that the documents overall reveal a disturbing and disturbed pattern of thought from a much disturbed mind.

”In summary they range from general philosophies about the defendant’s desire to inflict his rather warped views on justice through the identification of groups or individual targets and this individual man, Donovan.”

A well as a materials for the killing, the list included materials for the disposal of the body which made Sugden certain that Mr Van Lill’s body would never be found, Mr Parker said.

He added: ”He had been thinking about it and planning it for a very long time.”

The court heard that Sugden lived with his parents at a remote farm with outbuildings containing many industrial tools and an empty shipping container.

Sugden allegedly harboured a ”simmering sense of antipathy” against South African Mr Van Lill following a holiday they shared in South Africa in 2006, Mr Parker told the court.

He told a friend that Mr Van Lill had laughed and filmed an attack on a black youth outside a bar during the trip.

On his return to the UK, the pair, who both worked at the Olympiad Leisure Centre in Chippenham, Wilts., remained friends but Sugden told a friend he planned to kill Mr Van Lill in revenge.

A week after the bodybuilder’s disappearance Sugden confessed to the same friend that he had killed him, and the knowledge was leaked to police who arrested him on 19 March, the court was told.

When police searched Sugden’s home they found the shopping list for murder among other disturbing literature in his office study.

The ”rudimentary shopping list, planning list or agenda for the murder of Donovan Van Lill” included directions to ”Pick him up with all his stuff, take him to container”.

Mr Parker told the court that a book called Begin Again contained ”his views on how the world should be ordered and how people who do unjust things should be punished by people who would be high priest of good.”

Part of Begin Again called for: ”The sword being be taken to the unjust and the flame to the wicked by by bastions of strength against evil by knight priests of good.”

Another notebook with a Disney Piglet on the front listed a number of groups who Sugden believed were evil.

These included contributors to the conservative party, solicitors, Lloyds Names, and PR Gurus.

Several people were named including his former manager at the Olympiad with whom he did not see eye to eye, who he had followed home on several occasions.

Mr Parker told the court: ”We suggest that Martin Sugden killed Donovan Van Lill as an act of late retribution, revenge, which came from an inner sense which he has of restorative justice.

”We say, and you may think, a rather disturbed sense of restorative justice. He thought that he was completely safe from detection, that the perfect crime had been committed.

”It was true – no trace has been found of Donovan Van Lill’s body.

”But this defendant could not help himself, a week after Van Lill disappeared on 3 March, from confiding in a friend what he had done.”

The court heard that Sugden confided in friend Jerard McKay two-and-a-half years before Mr Lill’s disappearance that he planned to kill an unnamed South African colleague.

Mr Parker said: ”In all seriousness, he told him then in 2008 or 2009 that he was very upset by what he had seen in South Africa and he wanted to kill that man.

”Martin Sugden told him he would dismember the body, he would burn it on a grill and then he would crush the bones.”

On 10 March, a week after the disappearance of Mr Van Lill, Sugden asked to meet with McKay and told him that he had carried out the plan, it was claimed.

Mr Parker added: ”The defendant went on to say he was ultra, ultra confident that the body would not be found. He said the police would not find anything.”

Divorced father-of-two Mr Van Lill was last seen alive by his girlfriend, Radka Paulovicova, and his live-in landlord Howard Davies, in the early hours of March 3.

Phone and internet records showed he was still alive and at home in Blackstone Mews, Chippenham until 10am on March 3 but after that calls to the phone registered at an aerial in Stanton St Quintin – near Sugden’s home.

His phone was found at home beneath his pillow but his car keys and items of clothing have never been found.

Twice-divorced Sugden, who had short spells in the Parachute Regiment, the Foreign Legion and the Territorial Army, had a day off from his work at the Olympiad on the day of Mr Van Lill’s disappearance.

He denies murder. The trial, expected to last six weeks, continues.


  1. Are they saying he was so careful that he didn’t leave any trace of a murder but would be stupid enough to have a book detailing the plans? I had a look at the facebook page and everubody has decided he’s guilty before the trial started.

  2. if his phone was used near sugdens home, how did it get back to under his pillow? he had his phone but car keys etc still missing? has any one considered there is another involved!!! some one who would be welcome at his home in pewsham of which the landlord allowed in!!!!! these simple questions should be answered which may lay the truth.


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