Motives loom as Dean cohorts await sentencing
By Darren Tobia, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The final legal fate of Tung Yu-chi (董玉琪) and Christopher David Churcher (邱凱), the dual conspirators who helped Zain Taj Dean (林克穎) flee Taiwan following his conviction in a fatal hit-and-run, will be handed out by the Taipei High Court today.
August 21, 2013, 3:25 pm TWN
Tung, Dean's Taiwanese girlfriend and lead accessory in masterminding his costumed escape, along with Churcher, the British expatriate who supplied a passport, pleaded guilty to charges and were respectively issued five- and seven-month commutable prison terms by the Taipei District Court in May, appealed days later by prosecutors.
”I had an opportunity no one else had,” Churcher told The China Post.
Churcher, like Tung, maintains Dean's innocence, claiming he was framed in a collaborative effort by the Daan Police Precinct and Minghang Bar (名亨酒店), whose valet Dean claims was driving his black 1993 Mercedes-Benz E320 at the time Huang Jun-de (黃俊德) was fatally struck on March 25, 2010.
”I only regret the hurt I've caused,” added Churcher. “For the victim's family, who still believes Zain is guilty, this must be traumatizing.”
Disguised as Churcher using whitening cream and channeling his smile, the ethnically Indian businessman — who but a month prior had been convicted in a widely publicized trial and labeled a flight risk a year hence — managed to abscond last Aug. 14 aboard a Bangkok-bound EVA Air flight, flashing the documents of Churcher, a Caucasian man nearly 10 years younger.
Self-entangled in a high-profile ploy posing great risk, small gain and slim chance of succeeding, Churcher, a 33-year-old filmmaker-turned-teacher raised in East Grinstead, England, has played an enigmatic role in the case. Friends described him as a bleeding heart, though clumsy with personal finances; principled, but impulsive and easily swayed. Others remembered him for his sundown antics, a hard partier that moonlit as a transgressive, buxom, limelight-loving drag queen.
Staunch in his claim that Dean suffered a miscarriage of justice, Churcher's acceptance of compensation in the exchange has cast doubt over the purity of his motive and came under scrutiny in the latest round of hearings.