Crime Lord charged with 2002 murder of Dutch schoolteacher after new evidence emerges

BRITISH crime lord Robert Dawes will face a Dutch court after being charged with ordering a hit on a Dutch schoolteacher 19 years ago.

Dutch prosecutors made the decision after re-opening the case and completing a three year long re-investigation of the brutal murder in which innocent Dutchman Gerard Meesters was gunned down at his home in Netherlands in November 2002.

Nottingham-born Dawes, considered one of the top five drug smugglers in Europe by Europol, is currently serving a 22 year prison sentence over a record 1.3 ton haul of cocaine seized at Paris airport in September 2013.

One of Dawes’ footsoldiers Daniel Sowerby is currently serving a life sentence in the Netherlands for the murder. Mr Meesters was shot dead at his home in Groningen in November 2002. The murder followed the theft of a shipment several hundred kilos of cannabis belonging to 49-year-old Dawes. Dawes believed that Mr Meesters sister, who had been working as a drug mule for Dawes’ organised crime group, was involved in the theft.

But when Mr Meesters’ sister disappeared with a female companion also believed to be involved in the heist, Dawes’ organisation turned their attention to relatives of the two women, who were then targeted with threatening messages and phone calls. Just days after being given a phone number to call to tell the gangsters of his sister’s whereabouts Mr Meesters was executed in cold blood on his doorstep. Phone taps by the Dutch Police revealed the anger of Dawes’ associates over the theft of the drugs, with the two women being described in conversations as “Thelma and Louise”, a reference to the 1991 film about two women who go on the run from the police.

In 2018 Mr Meesters’ family directed police to what they believed was new evidence and asked for the case to be re-opened. As well as evidence unused in the case against footsoldier Daniel Sowerby, police and prosecutors have gathered new evidence which they believe gives them a realistic prospect of convicting Dawes. The new evidence includes interception of telephone conversations of Daniel Sowerby from his prison in Netherlands as well as new statements by significant witnesses.

The Dutch Ministry of Justice stated: “The Court of Appeal ruled in 2006 that the murder was committed on behalf of the organization. In the judgment, the Court spoke of a ‘murder committed on behalf of the organization, a murder of an innocent victim, as a means used by the organization. A cruelty that has hitherto been rarely shown in our country’.

“In 2018, the police and the Public Prosecution Service of the Northern Netherlands started a new investigation. This investigation into the originator of the murder now leads to the prosecution of the 49-year-old suspect, who was questioned in France in mid-December last year about his role in the murder. Based on the extensive investigation file, the Public Prosecution Service Northern Netherlands has today made the decision to prosecute the 49-year-old suspect.

“The 49-year-old suspect has been irrevocably sentenced in France to 22 years in prison for importing 1,200 kilos of cocaine. He has been incarcerated since 2015. The pre-trial hearing in this case is currently being planned to give the defense the opportunity to submit research wishes.”

Koen Meesters, son of Gerard, welcomed the news today: “This has been a long time coming. We are pleased that this person will finally face a court room more than 18 years after my father was murdered.”

If convicted Dawes could face a life sentence in the Netherlands without parole.

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