x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Kerry Winter's murderer may get lesser sentence for blood money

The man convicted of murdering Kerry Winter may have his sentence reduced in return for compensating her family, following a legal ruling.

DUBAI // The man convicted of murdering Kerry Winter may have his sentence reduced in return for compensating her family, following a legal ruling yesterday. The Dubai Court of Appeal has given Winter's family legal recognition as her "blood guardians", allowing their lawyer to represent them in the case. The lawyer, Hussien al Jaziri, had been told in July that he could represent the family only in civil actions.

He petitioned the court yesterday to implement al qasas, a legal measure that gives a victim's family the right to have a sentence reduced in exchange for compensation. MA, a 42-year-old operations manager from Britain, was found guilty of premeditated murder by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance on June 7, and sentenced to 15 years in jail. The sentence was based on his "situation" and other circumstances of the case.

The court did not elaborate, other than to say that he was spared the death penalty because the victim's body had not been found. Winter, who was 36 when she disappeared, was last seen on August 20, 2008, outside her villa in Al Barsha. Despite extensive searches, publicity in the UAE, Britain and South Africa, and the involvement of authorities from all three countries, no body has been found. Prosecutors said that MA beat her with a baseball bat, put her body in a sack then took it out to sea on his boat and threw it overboard.

Two of Winter's neighbours said they witnessed the beating, and MA was arrested five days later on murder charges. The potential outcomes of the appeal are that his sentence is confirmed, upgraded to death, or reduced, or his conviction is overturned. The next hearing will be on August 8. A separate civil claim filed by Winter's brother, Kurt, seeks Dh400,000 in blood money and moral compensation.

amustafa@thenational.ae