Oil exec gunned down in Brussels street – was it a professional hit?
No obvious motive as British executive Nicholas Mockford is shot three times in front of his wife
MYSTERY surrounds the death of Nicholas Mockford, the British oil executive shot three times in front of his wife as he left an Italian restaurant in a suburb of Brussels.
Mockford, 60, an executive for ExxonMobil, was killed on 14 October but Belgian police imposed a reporting blackout and only released the news yesterday. His wife, Mary, was left beaten and covered in blood, cradling her husband and shouting for help. He later died on the way to hospital.
Witnesses said they saw the couple walk across the street from Da Marcello restaurant (above) in Rue de Beyseghem to their Lexus car before the shots were fired. Reports suggest two men were spotted running away from the scene, one holding a motorcycle helmet.
According to The Daily Telegraph, police are considering all possible motives for the shooting, including an attempted carjacking – although the killers did not take Mockford's car.
Chief Inspector Wim Van Leifferenge said no one had been arrested for the killing. A 'judicial instruction' from the investigating judge has prevented any further details being revealed about the killing, which is said to be a normal process in a serious murder investigation in Belgium.
Mockford is understood to have worked for ExxonMobil since the 1970s and was head of marketing for interim technologies at ExxonMobil Chemicals, Europe, promoting new types of greener fuel. He was brought up in Leicestershire and had moved abroad from Chichester some years ago, living in Belgium and Singapore.
He married his Belgian wife 15 years ago and had three grown-up children from his first marriage living in Britain.
One of his family members told the Telegraph that Mockford was a "genuinely lovely, clean-cut, mild-mannered, family man" and said the family has been left in confusion about what has happened.
"He was shot so calmly and so quickly, it smacks horribly of a professional hit," said the relation. "But we can't fathom why. He isn't the type to cave in to blackmail and it just doesn't compute."