A retired British banker told yesterday how he raced against death after two gunmen ambushed him and his family on an isolated road in the Philippines.
But the former RBS-Natwest executive denied reports that he was responsible for the deaths of the two teenagers, aged 17, and 19, who were later found dead at the same spot.
Public school educated Richard Bell, 60, born in the Indian tea region of Assam but brought up in London, told how with his foot on the accelerator of his Kia Sorento he raced against the men, as they overtook him on a motorcycle near the city of Cebu.
‘They pumped a few bullets into my car hitting the frames of the door and then raced on ahead. But they lost control and I saw them hit the roadside barrier and crash into some concrete.
‘As I passed, I saw that their motorcycle was a wreck and thank goodness for that. I realised they could not follow me. But even as I passed, one let off a clip at me. A bullet bounced off the hood, hit the windscreen, and a chard of glass hit my forehead.
‘I kept driving flat out for about half an hour straight to the provincial police headquarters.’
Afterwards police found the bodies of teenagers cousins Borja, 17, and Harold, 18, Flores. Their injuries were reported as consistent to having been involved in a road accident.
But said Mr. Bell: ‘There’s a lot of tosh been written in the local papers. I did not kill anybody. They say my hands have tested positive for having gunpowder residue, maybe they suspected I shot at my own car, but that its quite natural I should have gunpoweder residue I suppose as I picked out and handed the spent bullets to police.
‘They also seem to be saying that I confessed to running over the two victims. That’s not true. I gather two bodies have been found, but I did not cause any deaths. They have my car. There is no damage to the front. They crashed the bike themselves and one was still well enough to shoot at me afterwards.
‘ They could just have easily have been knocked over by the beer and coke truck which I passed earlier.
‘The only thing I know for sure is that these guys were out to kill me and my family and I went like a bat out of hell to get away.’
Mr. Bell, full names Frank Richard Bell, said he was an executive for both National Westminster and RBS working in London and the United States, before he retired in the Philippines. It is also understood he worked in the financial sector in Hong Kong in an independent capacity.
He said he had been away for the weekend visiting the family of his 28-yr-old Filipina wife, Juriza, together with their nanny and four-year-old daughter Savanna, and were returning home when the attack happened.
‘Out of town the road can become dangerous.’
Witnesses have confirmed to police that Bell was ambushed. But the father of one of the dead teenagers, Borja Flores, was reported in the local press as having had an affair with Bell’s wife. They both come from the same district.
Mr. Bell said: ‘It seems I was targeted. I don’t know why. I have heard it all. The press here make it up as they go along.’
Police Superintendent Rudolfo Albotra said today: ‘ Our enquries are continuing. We have yet to receive a satisfactory explanation as to why these two young men are dead.
NB: Although NatWest, RBS, are unable to confirm that Frank Richard Bell used to work for them, Frank Richard Bell of Cebu, I am sure would wish to disassociate himself from the Frank Richard Bell of Hong Kong, a man associated with ‘boiler rooms’ whom the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commisssion put on their warned list.