Swinging: a lifestyle choice that can be lethal

Last Updated: Sep 14, 2010, 12:41 PM IST

Sydney: On telegraph poles, in local newspapers, on the internet: advertisements enticing Australians to join clubs and exchange partners for sex are everywhere.

Swinging, as it is known, is talked up as a safe and costless way of enlivening a staid marriage, a bit of fun and an antidote to adulterous affairs that can rip families apart.

As a murder case currently before a Melbourne court has shown, the real cost can be high indeed.

Swinging cost multi-millionaire businessman Herman Rockefeller his life and devastated his family.

Rockefeller, 51, went missing in January after arriving back home in Melbourne airport from a routine business trip. His car was seen leaving the airport - and that was it.

His wife, Vicky, appealed to the public to help find him.

"He`s level-headed, the business is going well and he`s a real family man. It`s absolutely out of character," she said, noting that their eldest daughter was about to start university and there could be no possible reason he would not want to be home.

The court - and, indeed, Vicky - learned of the Harvard graduate`s double life: conservative, pillar-of-the-community family man and reckless, low-life-seeking sex fiend. He was helped in his deception by maintaining five mobile phone accounts.

From the airport, Rockefeller drove to see an unemployed and barely literate couple, Mario Schembri, 58, and Bernadette Denny, 42. He had met them through advertisements he placed in a swingers` magazine.

Rockefeller, a personal friend of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, promised the pair he would bring a partner along.

In the argument over the missing "Jenny", Rockefeller was knocked to the ground, hitting his head. Schembri and Denny pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.

"What has occurred after he has died not only was designed to conceal the crime but it also showed a callous indifference to the loved ones of the deceased and it must necessarily add to their trauma," the judge said.

Schembri and Denny thought what to do for two days and then bought a chainsaw, overalls, face masks and a shovel. They dismembered Rockefeller`s body and burned it in a 44-gallon drum at a friend`s house.

IANS