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Episode Thirty-Eight: Justice for Martine Vik Magnussen: On the morning of Sunday 16th March 2008, the body of 23 year old Martine Vik Magnussen was found raped and strangled in the basement of 222 Great Portland Street, London. And although the Police know who her killer is, where he is and can prove he was guilty, he has never been arrested. Why?
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Ep38 – Justice for Martine Vik Magnussen
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SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within one square mile of the West End.
Today’s episode is about Martine Vik Magnussen; a bright, loving and vivacious student, who travelled from Norway to study in London, but was murdered at the hands of a friend, and although her brutal death has been solved, more than ten years on, her killer has never been brought to justice.
Murder Mile contains unsettling details which may make the timid tremble, as well as realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 38: Justice for Martine Vik Magnussen.
Today I’m standing outside of Seaford Court at 222 Great Portland Street; one road west of Gosfield Street, where the West End’s most infamous strangler murdered his third victim, one street south of Regent’s Park where the Provisional IRA exploded two bombs killing 11 people and injuring 50, and a few streets south of Hampstead Road and Gloucester Crescent where two more possible victims of The Blackout Ripper were murdered - coming soon to Murder Mile.
Situated just north of Oxford Circus; where-as Soho is the home of every hobo, homo, hipster, ponce, pervert and deeply desperate extrovert; being its bastard little brother, Fitzrovia is little more than a half-way house for those moody, vague, ashen faced arseholes who aren’t as rich, hip and famous as they think, hence they live on a street where every building looks like an accountants.
Being a place where no-one bothers to stop, situated in the west end of Fitzrovia, Great Portland Street is a pretentiously hideous concrete jungle, unaware of how truly shit it really is. As outside of its endless uptight eateries sits a slew of grumpy gits and frumpy sows, all dressed in fur coats, fedoras and painfully tight facelifts, who sip blinis on its kerb-side tables (like they’re sunning it up on the French Riviera) when actually, every time they chug back an oyster, they choke on a caustic mouthful of dust, truck fumes and the whiff of poodle plop. Yup, Great Portland Street truly is an awful place.
Now renamed The Armitage, Seaford Court at 222 Great Portland Street is a semi-exclusive set of serviced apartments; and with a stark black and glass fronted façade on the ground floor (which makes it look like a funeral directors), a storage vault in the basement (which, again, is ironic, given its history), and with a five-storey red brick mansion block above, built in a faux Parisian style, here you can rent out a flat once owned by a minor celebrity, a failed pop-star, and maybe even a murderer.
As it was here on Friday 14th March 2008, that 23 year old Martine Vik Magnussen was lured back to the flat of a close friend… and murdered. (INTERSTITIAL)
As a bitter Norwegian wind blew across the icy frozen tundra, in the early hours of Wednesday 6th February 1985, the deathly silence was cut short by the sharp squeal of tyres and the roar of a high-revving engine, as a set of Saab headlights ripped along the pitch black coastal road from Nesoya to Oslo. To the left, darkness; to the right, the sea, eerily still and black like blood in the moonlight.
Behind the steering wheel, fighting the grip, as the speeding weaving car blew through every stop sign, red light and road-block, was 25 year old (Aad) Odd Petter Magnussen. Being a tall slim man with wavy blonde hair and a kindly yet concerned face, although (for the first time in his life) he’d broken several traffic violations, Petter wasn’t a criminal, a fugitive or a maniac, but a loving father.
And as a series of pained screams echoed from the backseat, between the legs of his heavily pregnant wife (Kristin), a tiny blonde crown of hair peeped out, as their excitable second child got bored of waiting and with a new world to explore and no time to waste, out she popped, just inside the doors of Oslo hospital. With wide hazel-green eyes, soft blonde hair and a bright beaming smile, as Petter held his perfect little girl in his arms, he promised to love and protect her.
The childhood of Martine Vik Magnussen could easily be described as idyllic, and as the beloved middle child of two loving parents, who was adored by her older brother Magnus and younger sister Mathilda, she grew-up surrounded by love, joy and happiness.
On the small beautiful island of Nesoya, 25 miles south-east of Oslo, the Magnussen family lived in a little wooden cottage on the brow of a hill overlooking a stunning snowy fjord. And with the air being fresh, the water being clean and the streets being safe, as an active child, here Martine could run, swim and play, all day. But being an inquisitive girl with a thirst for knowledge and an adventurous spirit, coming from a remote island, her family knew that one day she would leave to see the world.
As a popular, generous and honest girl with a heart so big it’s amazing it managed to fit into her 5 foot 4 inch frame - being bright, kind and bubbly - Martine was beautiful inside and out.
Every summer, when the Norwegian snow had melted into crystal clear streams and crisp blue lakes, in a little wooden hut nestled on the shoreline at the bottom of the family garden, Martine would host parties for her nearest and dearest; singing, dancing and cooking treats. And as an instantly likable young lady with no enemies, only friends, Petter described his daughter as "pure sunshine". (Silence)
So, I guess you’re probably expecting to hear about a horrific incident in her idyllic childhood – maybe involving drugs, death, debt or disaster - where everything she ever loved fell apart and her life was changed forever? But it didn’t. In fact, the worst thing that happened was the divorce of her parents when Martine was 15, but as a loving couple, deeply committed to their children, they amicably split and remained close, spending birthdays, Christmases and holidays together. (End silence)
Encouraged by her doting father to be confident, independent and ambitious; having once dreamed of being a prima ballerina, a showjumper and a professional netballer, after graduation from Kristelig Gymnasium (a private Christian school in Oslo), in February 2007, Martine moved to London and later enrolled in an International Business Relations degree at Regents Business School, barely a 15 minute walk from Seaford Court - the five-storey red brick mansion block at 222 Great Portland Street.
As a dynamic girl in a bustling city, 23 year old Martine academically thrived, emotionally blossomed and socially flourished, and although she was over a thousand miles from home; she lived well, stayed safe and made many new friends. One of whom was Farouk Abdulhak (INTERSTITIAL)
Born in Sana’a, the capital city of the Arab sovereign state of Yemen, on the 18th February 1987, Farouk Abdulhak was the eldest son of Egyptian and Yemeni parents. And although the Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, with half the population living on less than £1 a day and with limited access to fresh food and clean drinking water, the life of Farouk Abdulhak was very different.
Raised in opulence, wealth and privilege, Farouk was the first-born son of billionaire Shaher Abdulhak; dubbed the ‘King of Sugar’ owing to his business interests in Coca-Cola, as a powerful man with many influential allies, Farouk’s father was a close personal friend of the Yemani president and his personal net worth of $9 billion was the equivalent of 1/10th of his country’s annual GDP.
As future heir to his father’s fortune, Farouk attended Azal Hadda primary school in Sala’a, was educated in the traditional core values of Islam - tolerance, abstinence and compassion – and although a lot rested on such a small set of shoulders, Farouk was friendly, respectful, pleasant, polite and shy. The kind of guy his school friends said “wouldn’t hurt a fly”.
Being 5 foot 7 inches tall; slim and toned with chestnut eyes, cropped dark hair, a chiselled face and a neatly trimmed designer beard, being dressed in the latest brands, gold chains and snazzy trainers, although slightly vain, 21 year old Farouk was an unremarkable young man, who looked like almost any other wealthy Arab’s son raised in the West on an excess of money, freedom and privilege.
Eager for the offspring to his ever-expanding empire to be well-educated and develop solid experience in both Arab and Western cultures, Farouk’s father sent his son to some of Britain’s top boarding schools, and - although Farouk rebelled against his strict Islamic father by drinking, smoking and professing to be agnostic - in September 2007, he enrolled in an International Business Relations degree at Regents Business School in London, where he met Martine Vik Magnussen. (Silence)
So, I guess you’re probably expecting to hear about a horrific incident in his idyllic childhood – maybe involving drink and drugs, guns and gangsters, massacres and mental illness – of how a shy boy became a psychopath and his life was changed forever? But it didn’t. Farouk was a billionaire’s son, living in London, studying by day, partying by night and although he was 4500 miles from his home, the worst thing that happened to Farouk was the pressure of having to uphold his family’s honour. So, as far as we know, Farouk had no reason to kill Martine… but he did. (End silence)
In June 2007, Martine moved into a modest four-bedroomed flat just off Chelsea Bridge Road, in a safe, local and well-lit part of town, that she shared with three Norwegian friends, and which she funded by working a part-time job at Mulberry clothing store in Mayfair.
And as a confident girl who liked the nightlife, hailing from a small island and living in a big city, Martine never took risks with her safety, she was street-smart, careful and cautious. She didn’t walk home at night, she didn’t hitchhike, she never accepted lifts from strangers and if any of her flatmates decided not to come home, the rule was "always text, always stay in touch”… and Martine always did.
Her female friends would often joke that there were no men left in London as they were all in love with Martine, and being a mesmerising woman who had an innate ability to make everyone feel special, warm and loved, some men fancied Martine, where-as others were besotted.
Farouk and Martine had known each other for eight months; and (to the best of our knowledge) they never dated, fought, kissed or fornicated; they had no debts, lies or secrets; and often being seen together, although it was obvious that Farouk fancied her, he never asked Martine out and she never rejected him. They were just two good friends… one of whom would end up dead
The murder of Martine Vik Magnussen is part of an on-going investigation, so the following details are based on the limited information available, therefore there will be gaps, lapses and loose-threads.
Thursday 13th March 2008 was a night for celebration, as not only was this the end of term for the students of the Regents Business School, but in her exams, Martine had come top of her class.
Being eager to drink, dance and let off steam; Martine, Farouk and some school friends headed out to a boutique nightclub called Maddox at 3-4 Mill Street in fashionable Mayfair; where the guest-list is by invite, membership is by referral and being secreted beneath an unassumingly bland office building, with no neon sign or flashing lights, the Maddox Club is only for those who know.
Stylishly dressed in skinny blue designer jeans, a fawn coloured vest-top and brown snakeskin shoes, which she’d accessorised with Christian Dior earrings, a silver Guess watch and a black leather Marc Jacobs handbag, and with her trademark blonde hair, pink lipstick and silver eye-shadow, as Martine slinked down the spiral staircase, into the club’s pseudo-futuristic back-lit façade, she seamlessly blended in midst a sea of student and socialites; singing, dancing, mingling and laughing.
By all accounts, a fabulous night was had by all, and nothing out of the ordinary happened. There were no fights, spats, strops, huffs, tuts, tears or bad-blood spilled. It was an evening perfectly summed up by one of the many photos taken that night; it shows Martine and Farouk, two friends in a gentle embrace, her arm draped over his shoulder, and both are happy, smiling and relaxed.
At 3:20am, with her pooped-out friends’ eager to sleep and a full-of-beans Martine desperate to dance till dawn, outside of the Maddox Club, they parted ways. And having misplaced her mobile phone one week prior, her flat mates knew not to expect a text, and besides, she was with Farouk, so they knew she’d be safe. A few moments later, Martine and Farouk hopped in a black cab on Mill Street and headed north into Fitzrovia. That was the last time anyone (but her killer) saw her alive ever again.
On the morning of Friday 14th March 2008, her bleary-eyed flat-mates spotted that Martine’s bed hadn’t been slept-in, her snake-skin shoes weren’t scattered on the floor, her Marc Jacobs handbag wasn’t slung over the door, and although she didn’t have her phone, she knew the rules and (no matter what) she would find a way to say she was safe… but she hadn’t.
They messaged her via Facebook – no reply. They called all of her friends – no sighting. They called Farouk – no answer. And growing even more concerned, as day turned to night, they retraced her last known steps, handing out flyers adorned with her photograph – but no-one had seen her.
Having been missing for 24 hours, Martine’s disappearance was reported to the Police, but being a popular foreign student, in London, on a bank holiday weekend, it was assumed she was partying and no search was done. But then again, Martine wasn’t the only person who had gone missing that night.
Unusually, for such a media savvy man, shortly after his arrival home, Farouk switched his mobile off. Strangely, for such a social climber, the door to his flat remained firmly shut. And – in a sinister twist - at roughly 4am, barely forty minutes after he and Martine had hopped in a black cab, Farouk updated his Facebook status, it read “Farouk is home alone”. One day later, he deleted his profile completely.
Knowing their friend and fearing the worst, Martine’s flat-mates approached the Police with their findings and pestered them to call on Farouk. And seeing the clues before them leading to something unseemly, PC James Tauber was dispatched to Seaford Court at 222 Great Portland Street.
Farouk wasn’t home. He hadn’t been for more than a day, and with his clothes, his phone, his wallet, his bag and his passport missing, it looked like, wherever he’d gone, he’d left in a hurry.
And although she was nowhere to be seen, the officer instinctively knew that Martine had been there, and that something bad had happened to her, as sprawled across the flush white carpet, in a crumpled messy heap, lay her fawn coloured vest-top, and - like a grisly version of Hansel & Gretel – pointing towards the flat’s front door, in an ominous spotted line, were rivulets of little red dots.
As PC Tauber traced the sporadic speckles of concealed blood down the cold stone stairs, as his booted feet echoed off the hard walls, his ghastly treasure hunt ended, as the crimson spots came to a dead stop at a basement door, its padlock dotted with dried and crusted blood.
At 10:20am, on Sunday 16th March 2008, in the damp, dark and unlit basement of 222 Great Portland Street, the semi-clad body of 23 year old Martine Vik Magnussen was found, hastily dumped under a pile of builder’s rubble, as her left arm protruded from a mess of sand and cement, in a rushed attempt by her killer to conceal his crime. Martine had been raped and strangled.
The next day, Odd Petter Magnussen, Martine’s doting father (who just 23 years earlier had raced through the icy Norwegian tundra, from Nesoya to Oslo, to ensure the safe birth of his beautiful baby) had flown from Oslo to London, to undertake a duty which no father should ever have to do.
In the sterile coldness of the mortuary, on an aluminium gurney, draped in a blue plastic sheet, lay the body of Martine Magnussen. And although the Police told Petter everything to prepare him for the sight he was about to see – that she’d been strangled, that she’d been raped and that she’d fought for her life – it would never be enough, as lying in front of him, was his daughter, all cold and lifeless.
And although her flawless skin was mottled with a mix of yellow, brown and purple bruises; with her face swollen, her tongue protruding and her neck etched with an odd mark, it was the little details which brought the most pain for Petter. He would say of that day, “she looked like Martine, she still had her eyeshadow on”. And as she lay there, and his trembling hand stroked her cold face, even as an unemotional man, Petter was reduced to tears, at the sight of his beautiful baby - dead.
And of all the harrowing details he had heard that day of his daughter’s demise, the worst he would have to live with was this; as an illuminous young woman who had brought so much happiness to the world, her last moments alive weren’t spent in love, or joy, or delight, but in pain, fear and dread.
Forensic pathologist Dr Nathaniel Carey confirmed that Martine had 43 substantial injuries to her head, neck and body. And although toxicology tests confirmed she had consumed 130mg (milligrams) of alcohol and a small amount of cocaine (consistent with any weekend drinker and recreational user); she was fully conscious at the time she was raped, and that the unusual mark across her neck was consistent with compression, as if she’d been pinned to the floor by an object, a hand, or a foot.
Almost ten years on, the murder of Martine Vik Magnussen remains unresolved, but not unsolved.
After a short Police investigation, although they only had one suspect; they knew who he was, where he was, and they knew (and could prove) that he was guilty. His name was Farouk Abdulhak. The problem was, they couldn’t arrest him.
On the afternoon of Friday 14th March 2008, having erased his Facebook profile, packed his bags and pocketed his passport, Farouk boarded a flight from London Heathrow to the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where he was spirited out of the country, to Sanaa in Yemen, in his billionaire father’s private jet.
Protected by armed guards, iron gates and a vast wealth, although his whereabouts cannot be verified, it is said that Farouk is hidden in the remote village of Thaba Abous in southern Yemen; he’s grown a beard to blend in with the strict Islamic culture, he studied Arabic at the local university, he recently married a divorced Yemeni woman, and – although a European warrant was issued for his arrest - as neither Britain nor Norway have an extradition treaty with the Yemen, it is unlikely that Farouk Abdulhak will ever be arrested, imprisoned or convicted, and (as of today) he remains the one and only suspect in the murder of Martine Vik Magnussen.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
Don’t forget to stay tuned to Extra Mile after the break, but before that, here’s my recommended podcast of the week, which is Bloody Murder (PLAY PROMO)
A big thank you goes out to my amazing Patreon supporters, who get treated to some very exclusive content but also they get a big load of love from me: this week’s star Patreons are Kate from the fabulous Ignorance Was Bliss podcast, Steve Stadalink who, like a blumming hero, increased his pledge to mega proportions, and a new patreon – the lovely Ambar from Phoenix (Arizona), who I met on my weekly Murder Mile walk, and she gave me £30 in cash to support Murder Mile. So to all of my Patreo-fans, I give you big kisses, from the bottom of my heart, the bottom of my liver, but not from the bottom of my bottom, because nobody wants a kiss from there, except real weirdos.
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
Credits: The Murder Mile true-crime podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed by various artists, as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0. A list of tracks used and the links are listed on the relevant transcript blog here
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British podcast Awards 2018", and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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