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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Qatari who murdered British teacher Lauren Patterson 'sees death sentence quashed'

Mother's anger as killer could be free in five years

Lauren Patterson was murdered and set on fire by her killer to prevent her identification.
Lauren Patterson was murdered and set on fire by her killer to prevent her identification.

Latest: Lauren Patterson's mother tells of 30 trips to Qatar only to look on as killer is handed lenient jail term

A Qatari who murdered an English teacher before burning her body in the desert has seen his death sentence quashed and could instead be free in under five years, according to the victim’s family.

Lauren Patterson, 24, was brutally killed in October 2013 following a night out in Doha.

Badr Hashim Khamis Abdallah Al Jabr was found guilty and sentenced to death for the killing.

He had stabbed Lauren, who was working at the Newton British School in the Qatari capital, before attempting to dispose of her body by burning it on charcoal bricks in the desert. Her badly-burned remains were discovered shortly afterwards and were identified through DNA testing.

The death sentence, handed down in 2014, was later quashed and a retrial ordered, following an appeals process, but the original verdict and sentence was reimposed in 2017.

However, at a further hearing at the Qatari appeal court, held on Monday, the sentence was reduced to just 10 years in jail, according to Alison Patterson, Lauren’s mother.

The time Al Jabr has already served behind bars will be taken into account, she said, meaning he has already served half of his new sentence.

Badr Al Jabr pictured in a social media image. 
Badr Al Jabr in a picture from social media

In a post on Facebook, she said that she was “devastated” by the ruling and described Qatar’s justice system as an “absolute farce”.

She wrote: “They have changed the judgment from death to not even life but 10 years and he has already served [five years] so could be out in less than 5 years.

“I feel devastated that they think Lauren’s death was nothing as he is a Qatari and above everyone else. They can hand out death sentences to non-Qataris and carry them out, why not for Lauren.

“This justice system is an absolute farce. I will meet with the British ambassador and my lawyer later. I will be appealing this.”

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Read more:

Death sentence upheld for Qatari who killed British teacher

Qatari police arrest suspects in British teacher ‘murder’

Doha-based author’s novel inspired by crime in Qatar

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Death sentences are rare in Qatar, with the last known execution taking place in 2003. At Al Jabr’s retrial in 2017, the courts had dismissed all aspects of his defence, pointing out that his lawyers had at various points claimed he acted in self-defence, was mentally incapable at the time of the murder and that Lauren had committed suicide. The courts had said that he should be executed by hanging or firing squad.

The family had previously criticised the sentence handed out to Mohamed Abdallah Hassan Abdul Aziz, who had helped Jabr burn the body. He was jailed for three years.

Lauren, from West Malling, a town around 35 miles south east of central London, had gone out with a friend on the night she was killed. The pair had accepted a lift home from two Qatari men. Lauren’s friend was dropped off safely before she was murdered.

On a Facebook page called ‘Justice for Lauren’, supporters of the family reacted with anger and shock to the news of the reduced sentence. Some called for Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, to intervene.

“There are no words. How can they just change it at whim like that. What a joke. I’m so sorry,” Sara Palmer wrote.

"I’m so sorry and livid for you,” wrote Veronica Graham Tucker.

“He obviously has influences in high places there. Which of course means that justice does not exist in that country. It is so unfair, undermining and frustrating.”