Former Leicestershire man Nicholas Mockford killed in Belgium shooting mystery
An oil executive from Leicestershire has been gunned down in an assassination-style killing in Belgium.
Nicholas Mockford, 60, was shot three times – once as he lay on the floor – after he left an Italian restaurant in the northern Brussels suburb of Neder-Over-Heembeek with his wife, Mary. Mrs Mockford was left cradling her husband as she shouted for help.
Mr Mockford, an ExxonMobil executive, was born and brought up in Leicestershire, where he lived with his parents, Philip and Anne, before the family moved to Chichester, in West Sussex.
The killing happened on October 14, but news of the attack only emerged yesterday after Belgian police imposed a news blackout.
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The Belgian prosecutor's officer said there was a "judicial instruction" from the investigating judge, Martine Quintin, which meant they could give no "explanation" and no detail about the killing.
Witnesses said they saw Mr Mockford and his wife walk across the street to their Lexus 4x4 car before shots were fired.
Reports suggested two men were spotted running from the scene, one carrying a motorcycle helmet.
Police chief inspector Wim Van Leifferenge said nobody had been arrested and those responsible were still on the run.
Local officers are considering all possible motives for the shooting, including a carjacking, although Mr Mockford's car was not taken.
Mr Mockford was head of marketing at ExxonMobil, promoting new types of greener fuel for interim technologies for ExxonMobil Chemicals Europe. It is understood he has worked for the company since the 1970s, living in Belgium and Singapore after leaving the UK.
A family member, who asked not to be named, told reporters he thought Mr Mockford had been killed in a professional hit. The relative said: "Nick was a genuinely lovely, clean-cut, mild-mannered family man. He was shot so calmly and so quickly, it smacks 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."
However, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil said the killing did not appear to be work- related.
She said: "We were shocked by the tragic death of Nick Mockford, one of our employees, a fortnight ago in Brussels.
"Mr Mockford was a department manager at our office close to Brussels, but we have no indication that the incident was work-related.
"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues and we are supporting them as best as we can at this very difficult time."
Mr Mockford was married to his Belgian wife for 15 years. He has three grown-up children living in Britain from his first marriage.
It is not yet known exactly where in Leicestershire Mr Mockford was from.