A serving British soldier has been arrested and charged with kidnap and robbery after allegedly tying up an Italian couple and holding them at knifepoint on the paradise island of Bali.
Greg Simpson, 36, an army reservist who toured Afghanistan as a member of the London Regiment, was said to have been part of a four-strong gang who stole 5.8 billion Indonesian Rupiahs in the raid, the equivalent of £300,000.
A former colleague said he went to Bali after being disciplined by his unit for making racist remarks during the army’s 2020 Operation Rescript, their domestic response to the Covid 19 pandemic.
‘He had become obsessed with conspiracy theories and extreme right-wing politics,’ said the former colleague. ‘I knew he was likely to get himself into trouble but being accused of a pre-meditated robbery is quite a surprise.’
Indonesian authorities arrested Simpson and alleged accomplice Nicola Disanto, 34, shortly after the robbery last November, but are still searching for the other two gang members.
Greg Simpson, 36, an army reservist who toured Afghanistan as a member of the London Regiment, was said to have been part of a four-strong gang who stole 5.8 billion Indonesian Rupiahs in the raid, the equivalent of £300,000
It is alleged that they broke into a holiday home on the Villa Seminyak Estate and Spa complex in Seminyak which was being rented by Italian couple Principe Nerini, 40, and his wife Camilla Guadagnuolo, 30.
According to a local police chief, the four men dressed entirely in black, covered their faces with scarves and wore gloves to hide their identities during the 3am attack on November 11 last year.
It is claimed that Mr Nerini was held at knifepoint and had his hands and feet bound before being beaten and locked in a bedroom.
The head of the Denpasar Police Resort, Commissioner Jansen Avitus Panjaitan told a press conference that the assailants then took six mobile phones and forced Mr Nerini to hand over passwords for his bitcoin accounts.
During the robbery, Ms Guadagnuolo returned to the villa and was subsequently detained and threatened by the robbers.
Once the robbery was completed, the four perpetrators fled the scene.
Indonesian authorities arrested Simpson (centre right) and alleged accomplice Nicola Disanto, 34, (centre left) shortly after the robbery last November, but are still searching for the other two gang members
After freeing themselves, the couple checked their bitcoin account balance to discover 5.8 billion IDR (£300,000) had been transferred in three transactions to an account owned by one of the alleged assailants, Disanto.
Commissioner Jansen, who said that all four suspects were foreign nationals, also revealed that Disanto, was a former employee of an export company operated by the victims.
Simpson and Disanto were both arrested less than 24 hours after the incident.
Police said that during the arrest, they seized two knives, a jacket, a pair of trousers, and cash as evidence.
If convicted of the charges that include robbery, confinement and threats, the men face up to nine years in prison.
According to a local police chief, the four men dressed entirely in black, covered their faces with scarves and wore gloves to hide their identities during the 3am attack on November 11 last year. Pictured: Simpson
One of Simpson’s former army colleagues said he had gone to Bali last year, after being disciplined by his unit for making racist remarks in London as the army helped set up Covid testing sites.
‘In the last 10 years or so he has got deeper and deeper into conspiracy theories and extreme right-wing politics,’ said the former colleague.
‘He was overheard on a minibus talking about his belief that certain ethnic groups have lower levels of intelligence.
‘For that he was formally disciplined and had his pay and rank reduced.
‘He wasn’t always like this but around 2010 there was a marked change in him. He started spending too much time on the internet.
‘He became obsessed with bizarre conspiracy theories and David Icke and then became increasingly anti-Semitic, talking a lot about Jewish freemasons and Jewish control.’
A spokesperson for the Army said: ‘We are aware of an incident in Bali that occurred on 12th November 2021. As the matter is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further.’
They said they were unable to release any information about the disciplinary hearing as it was an administrative matter covered by the Data Protection Act.
According to a former collleague, Simpson toured Afghanistan in 2007 and was part of a UN deployment to Cyprus in 2014.
His Facebook page carries a picture of himself wearing a belt with a ‘Black Sun’ buckle, a symbol beloved by neo-Nazis and part of the paraphernalia of Christchurch mosque murderer Brenton Tarrant who killed 51 worshippers in 2019.
Other pictures show him on an armed patrol in Afghanistan and under a khaki pith helmet. His likes include a page called ‘British Nationalism’.
It is understood that his family are spread out between the UK, USA and South Africa.
‘His mother died,’ said the former colleague, ‘and his father lives in the States. I know he has a brother and two sisters and at least one of them still lives in Britain.’