Chichester oil executive shot in Belgian street

TRAGEDY Nicholas Mockford was shot and killed outside a restaurant in Brussels
TRAGEDY Nicholas Mockford was shot and killed outside a restaurant in Brussels

AN oil executive from Chichester has been gunned down in an assassination-style killing in Belgium.

Nicholas Mockford, 60, an executive for ExxonMobil, was shot as he left an Italian restaurant in a suburb of the capital Brussels.

He was shot three times, once as he lay on he floor, and his wife Mary was left beaten and covered in blood, cradling her husband and shouting for help. He died on the way to hospital.

Witnesses say they saw the couple walk across the street to their Lexus car before shots were fired.

Reports suggest two men were spotted running away from the scene, one holding a motorcycle helmet.

The shooting is understood to have happened on October 14, but news about the attack has only emerged now after Belgian police imposed a news blackout.

However Chief Inspector Wim Van Leifferenge said no-one had been arrested and those responsible were still on the run.

A Foreign Office spokesman said today: ‘We can confirm the death of a British national in Brussels on October 14 and we are providing consular assistance.’

Mr Mockford is understood to have worked for ExxonMobil since the 1970s and was head of marketing for interim technologies for ExxonMobil Chemicals, Europe, promoting new types of greener fuel.

Brought up in Leicestershire, he had moved abroad from Chichester some years ago, living in Belgium and Singapore.

He was married to his Belgian wife for 15 years and has three grown-up children living in Britain from his first marriage, according to a national newspaper.

A family member, who asked not to be named, told the newspaper they thought he had been killed in a professional hit.

The relation said: ‘We are all confused about what has happened. Nick was a genuinely lovely, clean-cut, mild-mannered, family man.’

He added: ‘He was shot so calmly and so quickly, it smacks horribly of a professional hit, but we can’t fathom why. He isn’t the type to cave in to blackmail and it just doesn’t compute.’

A spokesman for ExxonMobil said: ‘We are shocked by the tragic death of one of our employees on Sunday, October 14 in Brussels.

‘Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues and we are supporting them as best we can at this very difficult time.’

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