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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Canadian billionaire and wife were murdered: police

Mr Sherman was known for his litigiousness and aggressive businesses practices

Honey and Barry Sherman, Chairman and CEO of Apotex Inc. Reuters
Honey and Barry Sherman, Chairman and CEO of Apotex Inc. Reuters

Police said on Friday that they believe Canadian drug-company billionaire businessman Barry Sherman and his wife were both murdered.

Detective Sergeant Susan Gomes said investigators came to the conclusion after six weeks of investigation, but said there are no suspects.

The founder of generic drugmaker Apotex and his wife, Honey, were found dead in their mansion on December 15. Police said then that the deaths were suspicious, but said there were no signs of forced entry and they were not looking for suspects.

Detective Sgt Gomes said the two were found hanging by belts from a railing that surrounds their indoor pool and were in a semi-seated position on the pool deck.

"We have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation and that both Honey and Barry Sherman were in fact targeted," Sgt Gomes said.

She said they were last seen alive in the evening hours of Wednesday December 13 and were not heard from again until their bodies were found late on Friday morning.

Sgt Gomes said there are no signs of forced entry at access points of the home. She declined to discuss the evidence, possible motives or suspects.

"We haven't developed any suspects," she said.

The day after the bodies were found, some prominent news media outlets quoted unidentified police officials as saying the deaths appeared to be a murder-suicide. That upset the couple's four adult children, who then hired their own team of investigators and a pathologist, who conducted second autopsies on the Shermans.

The family said in a statement on Friday that the new conclusion "was expressed by the family from the outset and is consistent with the findings of the independent autopsy and investigation.

"The family continues to support the Toronto Police Service in their efforts to seek justice for their parents and pursue those responsible for these unspeakable crimes," the statement added

Police have released the home back to the family.

Toronto police investigators have scoured the home, hauled away the couple's cars and even checked the sewers in one of Toronto's most exclusive neighborhoods for clues. They have taken 125 witness statements and analysed surveillance video in the neighborhood.

Mr Sherman, 75, was known for litigiousness and aggressive businesses practices as he developed Apotex Inc., which has a global workforce of about 11,000.

In "Prescription Games," a 2001 book about the industry, he mused that a rival might want to kill him.

"The branded drug companies hate us. They have hired private investigators on us all the time," he said. "The thought once came to my mind, why didn't they just hire someone to knock me off? For a thousand bucks paid to the right person you can probably get someone killed. Perhaps I'm surprised that hasn't happened."

Canadian Business magazine recently estimated his worth at $3.65 billion, making him the 15th richest person in the country.

As they became wealthy, the couple became known for philanthropy. They gave tens of millions to the United Jewish Appeal, donated to a geriatric hospital in Toronto and sent medicine to disaster zones. Prime minister Justin Trudeau attended the funeral and Mr Sherman is posthumously due to receive one of the country's highest civilian honors this year.

Friends and family say the couple had been making plans for the future. They had recently listed their home in Toronto for 6.9 million Canadian dollars and they were building a new home in the city. Sgt Gomes said anybody who had access to a realtor's lock box and the home in recent months is important to them.

Frank D'Angelo, a close friend of Barry Sherman, felt vindicated by the double homicide ruling after some thought it was a murder suicide following the early reports.

"There was absolutely unequivocally no way that he would hurt his wife, and hurt his grandkids, his family and his reputation," he said.

"What a horrible ending for a great man."