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British tycoon who died in Mombasa on Valentine’s Day was planning second marriage, witness

The Photo of the late Harry Roy Veevers, the father of Philip David Veevers in a photo taken before his death. A court case is yet to determine who killed him, as pathologists say he was poisoned. Photo/Kelvin Karani

Four years ago, on Valentine’s day, British investor Harry Roy Veevers was found dead on his bed.

His second wife, Azra Parveen Din, with who he lived, insisted her husband died of natural causes. Being a Muslim, she had her husband’s remains interred immediately and without a post-mortem being conducted.

Azra’s actions did not sit well with the man’s first family, who said they suspected foul play. Harry’s sudden death has now become a matter of a protracted judicial inquest involving his two feuding families.

First divorce

Harry divorced his first wife, Florence Marvis, in England then moved to Mombasa with his new wife, Azra, in the early 1980s. However, despite their parents’ split, the children kept in touch with their father and it is his two sons Richard Veevers and Philip Veevers who demanded to have an investigation carried out on their father’s sudden death.

Two years ago, they obtained a court order to exhume the corpse for an autopsy. It was determined that the soil around the corpse had traces of a killer pesticide and they accused Azra and her children of killing Harry after learning he wanted to marry another woman in order to inherit his vast wealth.

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On their part, Azra and her children say the man died of a heart attack or suicide. They presented Harry’s medical reports, covering a period of seven years before his death, which said he had been having suicidal thoughts after suffering several problems including an erectile dysfunction.

Initially police had recommended murder charges against Azra and her daughters Hellen and Alexandria but that was not to be. Instead, the State instituted an inquest, which has been ongoing since then, and where various witnesses have given their testimony.

Yesterday, John Whitehead – Harry’s close friend, appeared before the inquest where he said that just before Harry died, he had told Azra “to her face” that he wanted to marry another woman.

Whitehead, the fifth state witness in the inquest, told Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Charles Ndegwa that despite allegations that Harry suffered erectile problems, the Briton – who died aged 65, had a voracious sex drive and loved women.

“My friend was a man who loved women and whenever we were with him in a bar, he would seduce many women. He also told me that he desired to have more children but the woman he was living with could no longer sire for him the children he wanted,” Whitehead said.

He also revealed that Harry has sought his advice on whether or not he should divorce Azra who he allegedly referred to as “a pain in the neck”.

Stormed out

“As somebody who has divorced three times, I advised Roy to divorce his wife if she could not bear him the children he wanted. He also told me that Azra had completely destroyed his life,” he said.

As Whitehead testified, Azra’s daughters, Hellen and Alexandria, who were following the proceedings from the public gallery, stormed out saying the witness was lying.

Their grumbling and commotion caught the magistrate’s attention, causing a temporary stoppage of proceedings.

After calm was restored in the court room, Whitehead continued to dish out more dirt claiming that his friend had told him he no longer shared a room with Azra.

He then said that Harry chose to make his intentions known to his wife in a public forum which was “humiliating to Azra who did not take the suggestion very well”.

“Harry made the announcement in front of four British expatriates he was having a drink with telling Azra, who was in their company, that he was going to marry another woman. He then put his arm around Azra and told her that as a Muslim, she must be aware that he is allowed to marry up to four wives,” Whitehead said.

He said it was a short time afterwards that Azra rang him on the fateful night, telling him that Harry was dead. She also invited him for the funeral rites at Pandya Hospital where he found morgue attendants cleaning and wrapping his friend’s body in accordance to Muslim rites.

“My friend’s sudden death shocked me and I asked Azra why he was being buried without a post-mortem yet the law does not allow that in Kenya. She told me that Harry had converted from Christianity to Islam and therefore had to be buried in accordance with the tenets of his faith,” Whitehead said.

It was while at Pandya hospital that Whitehead met Harry’s two sons, Richard and Philip, who he said openly questioned the going-ons and were determined to know what killed their father.

The hearing continues.

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