x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Verdict next month in Kerry Winter appeal

A man who was found guilty of the murder of businesswoman Kerry Winter in Dubai in 2008 will receive the verdict from his appeal next month.

DUBAI // The man who was found guilty of killing Kerry Winter, a South African businesswoman, in Dubai in 2008 will receive the verdict from his appeal next month.

The defendant, MA, 44, addressed the Dubai Court of Appeal for more than 40 minutes during closing arguments yesterday. He told the chief justice, Eissa al Sharif, that he wanted to say again that he did not kill Winter and that his family and he had suffered considerably during the investigation and trial.

MA, who is from Britain, was convicted by the Criminal Court of First Instance on June 7 and sentenced to 15 years in jail. The court held that he beat Winter to death and dumped her body at sea.

Prosecutors said he stalked Winter for days before bludgeoning her with a baseball bat in front of her home on August 20, 2008. Officials said he then stuffed Winter's body in a burlap sack and dumped it over the side of his boat.

MA was arrested while flying back to Dubai five days after Winter went missing. He was charged with premeditated murder.

Winter, who was 36, was last seen outside her Al Barsha villa by two of her neighbours. They told prosecutors they saw MA beat her, drag her into her SUV and drive away.

But MA told the court yesterday there was no supporting evidence for the prosecution's case. He said he was presumed guilty from the moment of his arrest.

"CID officers told me that they knew I killed her and said that I will pay for that even before they started their investigation in the case," MA told the court. "The media also played a large part by misrepresenting me and character assassinations.

"If I killed Kerry, why would I return to Dubai and arrange for my son to fly in that same weekend from the US?"

MA's lawyer, Yousif Hammad, told the court that police errors and improper procedures tainted the prosecution's case.

"My client's arrest was illegal, because he was detained since August 25, 2008, for questioning on a missing person's case," he said. "However, prosecutors held him in detention without evidence, and then elevated it to murder without a shred of evidence."

"My client also endured police brutality and threats for four weeks to obtain a false confession," he said. "I personally witnessed this and have had my visit requests refused without reason from prosecution. Prosecutors also failed to present full statements from the witnesses and included only what they saw fitting in their case.

Mr Hammad told the court two prosecution witnesses had given full statements that were tailored to suit the charges, but that defied facts presented by the defence.

Mr Hammad also told the court that the two witnesses claiming to have seen MA assault Ms Winter had testified to seeing her on the ground but had not actually seen her being assaulted.

"Your honour, the victim was clearly drunk when my client followed her from Mina al Salam to check up on her. The witnesses claim that she was hit by a bat - that was never found - but never claim that they saw MA hit her," he said.

In the earlier judgment, premeditation was established based on the assault with the bat. "The establishment of intent to kill comes from his assault on her head. An assault on the head shows intent for murder," the verdict read.

Mr Hammad closed by asking the court to completely acquit his client.

A verdict will be issued on December 19.