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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Dubai brunch brawl Briton Asa Hutchinson 'risks arrest' if she returns to the UAE

Asa Hutchinson was part of a group of three men and two women accused of assaulting a Swedish IBM executive 

Asa Hutchinson was convicted of assault after a fight broke out in a Dubai restaurant.
Asa Hutchinson was convicted of assault after a fight broke out in a Dubai restaurant.

A British woman who was sentenced in absentia to three months in jail for her part in a restaurant fight in Dubai risks arrest if she returns to the country, according to officials.

Asa Hutchinson, 22, was part of a group of three men and two women accused of assaulting a Swedish IBM executive, 54.

A row escalated after the group took a picture of the man sleeping on a restaurant sofa in Al Fattan Currency House in DIFC after a brunch.

Ms Hutchinson and another man, 26, were charged with assault over the incident on May 27, 2016, and were this week convicted at Dubai Criminal court.

Ms Hutchinson, who was a resident of Dubai at the time of the incident, was sentenced to three months in jail; however, she was not in court to hear the sentence as she had already fled the country to return to the UK.

A chief prosecutor at Dubai prosecution told The National that although no arrest warrant has been issued for Ms Hutchinson, her name will now appear on all border check points and airports in the country and she will risk arrest on arrival.

Ms Hutchinson was reported to police on June 10, 2016, but did not attend Dubai prosecution for further investigation until October 2, 2017, and later secured bail by submitting her passport as security.

While it was reported in the British press that she had replaced her passport in order to leave the country before the court hearing, she submitted an application to the prosecutor handling her case at the Bur Dubai police station on March 6 this year requesting her passport so she could renew her residency visa.

The application was approved and she received her passport in return for a Dh2,000 deposit as a guarantee. The sum of the deposit was equal to the punishment prosecutors had expected her to receive as a first-time offender in a misdemeanour case — a Dh2,000 fine.

“I would assume that the prosecutor who approved her application at that time considered the charge to be a misdemeanour, because a report confirming the victim suffered any permanent disabilities — which changes the charge into a felony — had not yet been issued,” an official at Dubai prosecution said.

The medical report — which was released in May this year — showed the victim had incurred a 1 per cent disability from the incident, described as a breathing difficulty in the left nostril. This led to the case being referred for criminal prosecution.

“The man had been asked to visit the hospital for tests for the medical report, but he didn’t go before May 1, 2018,” said the source.

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During the trial, the court heard that a group had approached the Swedish man as he slept at a brunch and had taken a picture of him as one of the women posed beside him.

He was woken by a slap to the face by one of the group and found they were surrounding him and laughing, the court was told.

He then followed the group outside the building and threatened to call police.

“One of the men spoke to me in a tone as if I was at fault, then tried to hit me, so I pushed him," the man testified.

"One of the women pulled me away, asking me why had I assaulted her son.”

The victim said he was scratched by both women, with one of them snatching his glasses, before he was struck on the nose by one of the group, causing him to fall down.

He then claimed all of the assailants then kicked him while he was lying face down on the ground.

It was not clear from court documents exactly what role Ms Hutchinson played in the incident.