x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Missing witnesses frustrate trial of Briton accused of killing girlfriend

Defence lawyers may make final arguments without vital testimony in the case of woman whose body has never been found..

DUBAI // The trial of a British man accused of beating his ex-girlfriend to death with a baseball bat outside her Al Barsha villa was postponed again yesterday after a key prosecution witness failed to appear for the seventh time.

Mark Arnold, 43, is charged with the murder of Kerry Winter, a South African events executive, on August 20, 2008. Several witnesses reported seeing a man attack Ms Winter outside her home before dragging her into a car and driving away. Her body has never been found, despite extensive police searches and a publicity campaign led by her brother, Kurt Winter, involving posters, door-to-door inquiries and Facebook groups.

"I am so far from what's happening, I don't even know what is going on with the case," said Carol Winter, Kerry's mother, speaking to The National from her home in Durban, South Africa. "I just want answers and want for this to end. But before anything happens, I want to see her body if she, in fact, is really dead." Prosecution lawyers claim Arnold, a former operations director at Hill International, wrapped Winter's body in a blanket, placed it in a weighted bag and dumped it into the sea.

At yesterday's hearing, Maurice Agorious, a prosecution witness and a former colleague of Arnold, failed to appear for the seventh time, prompting calls from the Winter family's legal team to trace his whereabouts, as well as those of other witnesses who have missed court dates. Two other witnesses, Arnold's ex-wife, Dianne, and his Pakistani assistant, known as Oscar, have also consistently failed to appear.

Arnold's defence lawyer, Yousif Hammad, told the court yesterday he was ready to present his closing argument at the next hearing if Mr Agorious did not turn up. Mr Agorious is regarded as a vital witness, having told prosecutors that he received a call from Arnold after Winter's death instructing him to purchase a GPS tracking device, a waterproof bag and burlap sacks from Carrefour. Prosecution counsel claims these items were to be used to help Arnold get rid of the body.

Presiding Judge Hamad Abdul Latif adjourned the hearing to February 25, and said the defence team's closing arguments would be heard if Mr Agorious again failed to appear. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae