Life in the seedy red-light district where Brit banker murdered two sex workers

In the UK, it is completely legal to be a sex worker or prostitute. However, you can still be charged for a number of related crimes, like soliciting in a public place, kerb-crawling, owning or managing a brothel, pimping and pandering.

This is the case in much of the western world, where some countries outlaw prostitution as a whole, jailing those who engage in it.

But that isn't the case globally. The practice is extremely popular in the eastern part of the world, particularly Asia. A 2011 study from the Asian Commission on AIDS estimated there were 10 million sex workers in Asia and 75 million male customers.

And it was in Hong Kong where a British banker turned a busy region into a killing ground.

Former Bank of America Merrill Lynch trader Rurik Jutting was found guilty of killing two prostitutes he picked up in Wan Chai in 2014.

The two women were found murdered at the J Residence, an enormous residential building, on November 1. Jutting had phoned the police himself that morning, and when they arrived a 12-inch knife, sex toys and cocaine were found at the apartment.

Jesse Lorena was found lying naked on the floor, with wounds on her neck, throat and backside. Eight hours after Jutting's arrest, a second partially-decapitated female corpse was discovered in a large black suitcase on the balcony of the apartment.

The badly decomposing corpse was partially clothed, wrapped in towels and had her hands and legs bound with ropes. It was later identified as Sumarti Ningsih.

Inside Wan Chai

Sometimes, the workers that line the multicoloured streets and alleys take up to seven clients a day, a 2016 report from the Mirror claims.

Prostitution is legal if carried out by one woman operating alone. And after Jutting's atrocities, police cracked down on visas, launched nightly raids and closed down venues to make a statement.

The red-light district is exclusively for men – women are often shunned from parts of the region's streets.

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Away from the industry, Wan Chai has a World Trade Centre, a shopping centre, dozens of bars and restaurants and many public parks.

That's before you get to the huge number of impressive buildings like skyscrapers and offices, many standing over 40 floors tall.

Cocaine and marijuana

Drug use is rampant, though the police seem to be quite lenient, as gangs and drug lords have a grip on many officers.

One resident of the region told the Mirror: "Every night out here is about booze and drugs, so these lads reckon they can handle anything. The girls offer them a tiny bit as a taster and just that much wrecks you. Or they tell you it's just a little bit of hash to smoke to take the edge off.

"It's not unusual for someone to go off the radar for a couple of days. But on the third day we were a bit worried about my mate. We trawled his usual haunts. The bouncers on one club said that said they'd heard some working girls had a guy holed up in their flat.

"A few of us went round and banged on the door, screaming we were calling the police. While we were at the front, they threw my mate out the back.

"They had him hooked on meth and totally rinsed him. Every few hours, the girls would walk him to a cash machine and take him for 10,000 Hong Kong dollars (£1,000). He went through £10,000 in three days."

Jutting's appeal

Although four psychiatrists testified that he had narcissistic personality disorder, Jutting was declared mentally fit to stand trial for the killings. He was found guilty of the murder of both women and sentenced to life in prison in 2016.

Two years after, his team launched an appeal against his conviction. They argued that the trial judge gave incorrect instructions to the nine-person jury on reaching a verdict.

The appeal was not successful – being rejected after just eight minutes of deliberation. “We are satisfied that the judge’s directions correctly applied the law to the evidence adduced at trial,” the ruling said .

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