A British woman working abroad was raped and brutally murdered by an Uber driver before he could dump her body, an inquest has found.
Rebecca Dykes, 30, was picked up by Tariq Houshieh in December 2017 after a “girls night out” at a popular tourist bar in Beirut, Lebanon.
But after she got into the cab, Houshieh raped her, strangled her with a string from his hoodie, and dumped her body on the curb.
Rebecca had worked for the Department of International Development, helping Lebanon deal with refugees from the war in Syria.
Her body was found near a road on December 16, 2017, with choking marks around her neck.
A source told how her fate was sealed when she got into the taxi and the driver saw she was wearing a short skirt.
Houshieh was sentenced to death in 2019 – but is appealing for his commutation, reports MyLondon.
And it turned out he was working as a taxi driver – although he had a criminal record and was arrested twice for alleged harassment and theft, according to the Agence-France press.
At a much-delayed inquest into her death at Inner South London Magistrates’ Court in Southwark on Wednesday, chief coroner Andrew Harrison questioned British Postal Security Officer Alyson King in Beirut about the security arrangements in place as he considered the need to prevent the future death report.
Alyson noted that staff have a safety briefing upon arrival, wear personal alarms, hold monthly safety meetings, regular workshops and women-only sessions.
In 2017, employees were also advised to use only three vetted taxi companies for personal journeys – meaning anything done outside of safe work precautions. These three companies were covered in the safety briefing.
But she admitted: “It later emerged that many employees used other taxi companies when they found them convenient.”
Coroner Harrison pressed her on the issue, saying, “This suggests that the briefing was inadequate or not accepted as necessary… Were you satisfied with the adequacy of the briefing?”
Alyson said “yes,” but added that they continue to update the briefing.
Coroner Harrison continued the grilling by asking how her answer jibed with the “extensive use of unlicensed taxi companies at this time.”
Alyson said she was out of office at the time and needed to review the meeting papers to see if the issue had been addressed.
Coroner Harrison suggested Rebecca’s family would “deeply appreciate” a response and encouraged them to consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Office after the hearing.
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office security chief Bharat Joshi said a special security visit following Rebecca’s death found the “security culture was very, very strong”.
Stunned by the allegation, coroner Harrison asked, “If the safety culture was so strong, why were so many employees using unregistered taxi services?”
Joshi responded, telling the court that many employees “choose not to follow that advice.”
He also noted that “many people have used Uber all over Lebanon and there has never been a serious incident.”
He explained this was due to Uber’s “familiarity” as a global brand and convenience.
He recalled complaints from employees who used the three taxi companies checked and had to wait “15 to 20 minutes”.
In an emotional speech via video link, Rebecca’s mother, Jane Houng, said: “I just hope no parent has to go through what we’ve had to go through.
“One thing that pained me a lot was that embassy staff now wear personal alarms.
“I think if Rebecca was wearing a personal alarm at the time it probably would have saved her life.
“When I went to Lebanon shortly after her death and sat at a table with Rebecca’s friends and colleagues, they all said they used Uber. It was a common place for private trips.”
Coroner Harrison summed up the “deeply tragic” hearing, saying there were “gaps in understanding” of the safety procedures at the time.
But he noted that in the five years since “great strides have been made” and it was “a matter of safety” as “nothing in life is risk-free”. He added: “The risks are known and the steps have been taken.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/us-news/5933598/brit-30-raped-murdered-uber-driver-working-abroad/ The 30-year-old Brit was raped and murdered by an Uber driver before her body was disposed of while working abroad