Lebanese prosecutors have requested a death sentence against two Syrian men accused of the November murder of a British radio host.
The pair, both in their twenties, were charged with the premeditated murder of Gavin Ford, a British national who had been a popular radio host in Lebanon for years.
According to the Lebanese security forces, the two men have confessed to killing 53-year-old Ford.
A Lebanese prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for the two men accused of the brutal murder of British radio presenter Gavin Ford (pictured)
British radio host Gavin Ford’s body was discovered at his apartment in the suburbs of Beirut
They were detained in November in the Bekaa Valley area of eastern Lebanon.
Ford was found bludgeoned and choked to death at his luxury home in the town of Broummana, east of the capital Beirut on Monday November 26.
He had celebrated his 53rd birthday the previous night, uploading a video of himself inside his apartment along with two other men to social media.
On Monday morning he then went to record his usual radio broadcast, which is Lebanon’s most listened to drivetime show, before returning home.
The two men who confessed to his murder said they arrived at his home on Monday afternoon intending to rob him.
The suspects – identified by their initials as Aa.A. and H.B. and who are aged 27 and 23 – admitted strangling Ford and hitting him over the head with a sharp object.
They then fled Ford’s home using his stolen BMW and having taken his iPhone.
Two Syrian men – identified only as Aa.A. and H.B., reportedly confessed to killing Mr Ford during a botched robbery
They parked the car close to a busy market on the outskirts of Beirut and hid his phone and car keys at one of their homes.
The suspects said: ‘We went to the victim’s [Gavin Ford] house on Monday afternoon on 26 November to commit a robbery.
‘We choked him to death and hit him with a sharp object, knocking him unconscious. We left the area in his car.’
Police body was discovered next to a four-poster bed after entering the apartment around 11.15pm that night.
Colleagues at Beirut’s Radio One had raised the alarm when Ford failed to turn up for work that morning.
The prosecutor’s request for the death penalty comes after Ford’s step-mother said she would like to ‘string up’ his killers, who struck the day after the DJ’s 53rd birthday.
Tissy Ford, 77, told MailOnline: ‘We don’t know if it was random or whether these two knew who Gavin was.
‘If it was up to me, I’d string them up.’
Tissy and retired hairdresser Bob Ford, 79, live in Gloucester. They said they only learned of their son’s death when they got a text from a friend which said ‘condolences, so sad about Gavin.’
His lifeless and bloodied body was discovered next to a four-poster bed after police arrived at the apartment
‘The perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday’: Gavin Ford last posted on his Instagram three days before he was found dead
Tissy said: ‘At that point we didn’t understand the text which came from a friend in Australia.
‘But minutes later Gavin’s sister burst in looking like death and said: “Gavin’s dead”.
The elite Information Divison unit of Lebanon’s Internal Security Force, which is investigating the murder, issued a lengthy statement following the men’s confession.
It also released photographs of the suspects, but taken from behind.
The statement said: ‘Gavin Ford was found dead and tied up in the town of Broummana. Through examination of the body it was found that the cause of death was suffocation and him being beaten on the face with a sharp object.
‘Within a few hours of the crime the Information Division of the Internal Security Force found the victim’s car which had been stolen at the time of the crime. It was found outside the Sunday Market area, on the outskirts of Beirut.
Friends and neighbours in the picturesque leafy mountain village of Broumana where Ford lived say he will be greatly missed
‘As a result of investigations a Syrian man became a suspect. He is identified in this statement as Syrian, Aa. A born in 1991.
‘On the 28 November following investigations the ID was able to arrest the suspect in the Beirut district Nabaa, where the suspect lives.
‘During interrogation the suspect confessed to murder Gavin Ford in conjunction with a Syrian identified as H.B. born in 1995. Aa.A claimed he did not know where H.B. was.
‘In less than five hours the second suspect was located and arrested in the Jnah area of southern Beirut. He also confessed to carrying out the crime.
‘They said they went to the victim’s house on Monday afternoon on 26 November to commit a robbery.
‘The perpetrators of the crime are not the two people who featured in a video published by the victim in the hours before his death.’
Neighbours at the time spoke of their shock that such a grisly murder had taken place in the luxury mountain enclave.
‘This is just so horrible,’ one told MailOnline. ‘To live here when such as terrible thing has happened is so shocking.’
Another neighbour told how Ford had lived in the apartment, which has a huge balcony with a view over the Mediterranean Sea for the past 15 years.
She said: ‘Gavin was a lovely guy, quiet and friendly.
‘He left early in the morning for work but he was not trouble. There was never any noise or problems.’
One middle-aged woman said she saw Ford arrive home at around 10.30am on the day he was murdered.
She said it was ‘the normal time he came back from the radio station.’
She also claimed that she saw him walk from the car park where he left his black BMW and he was alone at the time.
The police report confirms officers arrived at Ford’s apartment at 11.15pm that night.
One of the neighbours claimed officers hadn’t needed to break down the front door before entering to find Ford face down in a pool of blood.
A team of more than 20 officers arrived at the scene, including a pathologist and a doctor who specialises in crime scenes.
The police report confirmed Ford was strangled and his body was found with his hands bound behind his back and his ankles also tied together.
His body – which was covered in bruises, according to the report – was also covered with what appeared to be a curtain.
Abdo Kahale, the director of Radio One, described Ford as a ‘super guy’ and a ‘gentleman.’
‘I can’t replace Gavin. He was really a legend for 15 years and we’ll truly miss him,’ he said.
A former colleague who knew Ford well for two decades added: ‘He was just so incredibly gentle and kind and that’s how I and many others will remember him, and also a little gullible. That was Gavin. Just too kind.
‘He often would give up his time unpaid to help university students or chair panels for the Lebanese, people he loved, for a country he felt at home in. He’s going to be really missed.’
British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Ramply said: ‘I am shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Gavin Ford, one of Lebanon’s most popular morning breakfast hosts.
‘The thoughts of all at the Embassy are with his family, friends and colleagues at this terribly difficult time.’
Beirut’s Radio One paid tribute to the British presenter who had become part of city’s fabric through his 20-year career in Lebanon.
In a statement the radio statement said: ‘We are heart-broken to announce the passing of our dear friend Gavin Ford, a member of our team for many joyful years.
‘We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues all over the world.
‘Rest In Peace Gavin.’
The producer of his show, Gavin In The Morning, Olga Habre, added in a FaceBook post: ‘Yes it’s true and I’m heart-broken. #ripgavinford.’
Ford was buried in Lebanon.
Gloucester boy who became ‘Lebanon’s Terry Wogan’
Gavin started his career on hospital radio before spells with Severn Sound in Gloucestershire where he was born and brought up.
He worked on an English language station in France before working in Cyprus, Israel and Beirut.
His dad said: ‘While he was on the Radio Caroline ship he had to work his passage back to Lowestoft on a trawler, gutting fish all the way. Gavin wouldn’t have liked that very much.
Gavin Ford was famous as the host of ‘Gavin Ford in the Morning’, said to be Lebanon’s most listened to breakfast show
‘But he loved it in Lebanon, I went out to visit him 20 years ago as now.
‘He did have to leave in a hurry when things got quite bad out there, the RAF had to fly him out.
‘But he went back and was very happy there – he had a big following on the radio.’
Gavin had worked for Radio One in the Lebanon for 22 years and the ex-pat community regarded him as their version of Terry Wogan.
He presented the breakfast show five-days a week and his huge following of fans were left shocked and upset by his murder on Tuesday.
Gavin had spoken to his parents on the phone the day before and was ‘fine’.
Tissy said: ‘Gavin loved it out there, he had a nice lifestyle and many friends.
‘He was always partying, he was out most evenings with having a good time with friends.
‘He lived alone with his labrador – he took care of himself and looked very good for 53.’
Gavin’s sister Julia, 56, was too upset to talk about the tragedy yesterday – their parents said she was ‘very close’ to her brother.
Julia’s husband, pub landlord Nick Beardsley flew out to Beirut immediately after hearing that Gavin had been bludgeoned and choked to death.
Distraught Julia and the couple’s three sons are flying out for a funeral and cremation service on Sunday.
Radio One Lebanon confirmed his death in a statement on the station’s Facebook page on Tuesday
The family in the UK had been looking forward to Gavin visiting for Christmas, his first trip home for some years.
Tissy said: ‘He was looking forward to it and we couldn’t wait to see him.
‘It would have been special for his dad because he’s fought back from two bouts of cancer.’
Gavin wished his dad happy birthday live on air during his popular morning programme last year.
Tissy said: ‘I picked up the phone and Gavin said he was doing his show and wanted to wish his dad happy birthday.
‘He introduced me to his listeners as his stepmum and told them I’d be in my stilettos.
‘He said if I had wellington boots they would have stilettos – that was Gavin, he was always light-hearted, good with people and a natural broadcaster.’
Bob is unable to fly out for the funeral because he’s not strong enough after his operations.
He said: ‘It’s horrendous, I feel so far away.
‘All we’ve been told is that he was strangled and they took his money and car which was found abandoned.
‘They have arrested two Syrians through the fingerprints or DNA, I don’t know.’
Gavin’s ashes will be scattered on the grave of his mother Patricia who died 20 years ago, at the family church in Leckhampton, near Cheltenham.
Tissy was her best friend but became Gavin’s stepmother six years
ago when she married Bob.
A memorial service will be held for Gavin at Leckhampton Parish Church at a later date.