It has been revealed that the death of prominent businessman Dinesh Schaffter, the director of Jana Shakti PLC, was caused by ingestion of cyanide, when the case was taken up before the Aluthkade Magistrate’s Court yesterday (08).
Further, the post-mortem examination report has also concluded that the injuries which have been caused by strangulation were not fatal.
The Homicide and Organized Crime Investigation Division of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) presented the facts regarding the death of Dinesh Schaffter today, before Additional Magistrate Mrs. Rajindra Jayasuriya.
In the meantime, the investigation officers pointed out before the court that many important facts were uncovered after analyzing the data of Shafter’s iPhone mobile phone and iPad.
Thus, the officers also mentioned that several documents prepared by Schaffter for his wife and his wife’s parents were found saved in the mobile phone and the iPad.
Furthermore, it was revealed in the court that Dinesh Schaffter’s iPad contained a document called “List” among the data which had been saved within ‘Apple Note’ and that the document contained a word “KCM” and “ZIP TIE” and also a list of several other items.
The investigation officers stated before the court that “KCM” is a shortened name referring to Cyanide and “ZIP TIE” is a plastic item used for tying-up something or someone.
In addition, another name list called “THE LIST” has been found in his iPad, in which the names of five people namely, Mrs. Muthukumarana, Jagath Seneviratne, Jayaratne, Anton Hemantha and Elian Gunawardena were mentioned, the investigation officers said.
The officers stated that there were also telephone numbers and addresses of those individuals.
It was also mentioned before the court that the last four of the five names in question contained a ‘sentence containing an intention to destroy’.
Furthermore, a PDF file containing photos of Brian Thomas has also been found on the iPad.
The investigation officers mentioned before the court that Josephine Thomas and Christian Thomas were also named in it.
There was also a sentence that ‘‘MOST IMPORTANT WHO IS BEHIND B.T. GET MY MONEY BACK”.
Accordingly, the investigation officers submitted the WhatsApp messages to the court, which were transmitted between Dinesh Schaffter and Brian Thomas from December 25, 2019, to December 15, 2022, the date on which he had died.
In addition, at 2:48:50 p.m. on the day of Schaffter’s death, Brian Thomas had sent a WhatsApp message to Schaffter stating that he had no need to meet him, and it also mentioned an attack he had made during a previous meeting, the officers said.
Schaffter had tried to call Brian Thomas to the Borella cemetery, but his attempt was not successful, the investigating officers emphasized.
It has further been revealed before the court that certain messages sent by Mr. Schaffter to Brian Thomas had been deleted.
Later, the postmortem examination report of Dinesh Schaffter was read in front of the Colombo Additional Magistrate Mrs. Rajindra Jayasuriya, whereas the Additional Magistrate declared that it stated the injuries caused by Schaffter’s strangulation were not fatal and that his death was due to ingestion of Cyanide.
The 52-year-old Janashakthi PLC Director was found tied up in the driving seat of his car at the Borella cemetery on December 15, 2022, and was rushed to the ICU of the National Hospital in Colombo. He passed away while undergoing treatment.
Investigations had revealed that Schaffter had left home at Flower Road in Cinnamon Garden at around 2.00 p.m. on December 15, informing his wife and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of his companies that he was going to meet an individual who owes him a large sum of money.
At around 2.48 p.m. on the same day, Schaffter had shared his live location with his wife and the CEO. The live location ended from the General Cemetery in Borella and the calls made by his wife had gone unanswered. Due to growing suspicions, Schaffter’s wife had asked the relevant CEO to check on Schaffter.
Subsequently, the CEO had driven to the cemetery in search of Schaffter. At around 3.00 p.m., the CEO found Schaffter’s car parked inside the cemetery. Schaffter had been bound with zip ties and a wire around his neck at the time he was found by the CEO, who later freed Schaffter with the assistance of a cemetery labourer and admitted him to the National Hospital in Colombo at around 3.15 p.m.
Schaffter, who was in critical condition, died at around 10.30 p.m., while receiving treatment at the ICU of the hospital. The police have also found an electrical code inside Schaffter’s car.
Following the murder, the Homicide and Organised Crimes Division of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had launched an investigation in collaboration with the Borella police.
The CID investigations had also revealed that the cemetery labourer had witnessed an unknown individual walking away from Schaffter’s car.
Meanwhile, the remains of the deceased were produced before the chief medical officer at the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. The post-mortem had revealed that the death had occurred due to strangulation.
Moreover, statements had been recorded from a total of 23 people with regard to the murder of Director of Janashakthi Group Business Dinesh Schaffter, according to Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa.
Schaffter’s wife, family members and former English cricket commentator Brian Thomas are also among those who gave statements to the investigators.
In addition, the foreign travels of Brian Thomas were barred on December 16, pursuant to an order given by Colombo Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawala. At the same time, Thomas’ mobile phone was taken into the custody of the CID.
Later, the Colombo Additional Magistrate had allowed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to obtain DNA testing through the Government Analyst on the late Dinesh Schaffter’s blood samples, nails, body parts and some spot evidence, in accordance with a request made by the CID.
The Magisterial inquiry into the murder was conducted on January 10, after it was adjourned on 04 January. Accordingly, the inquest was, once again, held in the chambers of Colombo Additional Magistrate Rajindra Jayasuriya, as per a request made by the relatives of the deceased.
Evidence was also recorded from Schaffter’s brother, who had identified the body, under the direction of officials from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
In 2019, Schaffter had also filed a complaint with the CID regarding financial fraud amounting to over Rs. 140 million. Thomas was arrested in 2021 over the incident and was released on bail. It is reported that Thomas had borrowed the amount from Schaffter claiming that it would be invested in a lending company in the country.