x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Family of missing woman meets detained suspect

The brother of a missing 35-year-old South African woman questioned the British man being held by police.

Kerry Winter was last seen outside her Al Barsha villa on Aug 20.
Kerry Winter was last seen outside her Al Barsha villa on Aug 20.

DUBAI // The brother of missing South African Kerry Winter yesterday had a highly charged meeting with the British man being held by Dubai police and "bombarded him with questions" about her disappearance. "His story just doesn't add up, there's a few times when it just changes," said Kurt Winter after the meeting. "He's hiding something, but we don't know what or why." Police have not revealed the identity of the detained Briton, but a source at the Dubai Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said he was Ms Winter's ex-boyfriend who recently had filed a court case against her. He is being held at Bur Dubai police station. The man had told police that on the night of Ms Winter's disappearance, he dropped her off at the Arabian Ranches roundabout, but police had found nothing there, the source said. Mr Winter and his son-in-law David Giles, who flew from South Africa to join the search for Ms Winter, interviewed the man together. "I cannot understand him being so nonchalant in this serious situation. Myself and my son-in-law bombarded him with questions from all sides," Mr Winter said.

Police say Ms Winter, 35, an events organiser from Johannesburg, was last seen outside her Al Barsha villa, on Aug 20, being beaten by a man with a baseball bat who dragged her injured and bleeding into the back of her car and drove away. The CID source said her silver Ford SUV was found abandoned in the Dubai Marina area. He added that she and her ex-boyfriend had a history of problems. "The man, her boyfriend, had filed a case against her at Bur Dubai police station recently. He accused her of stealing from him and the case made it to court, but then he dropped it," said the source. Police said that on the night of the baseball bat attack, Ms Winter was having drinks with a friend at a bar in Jumeirah when the suspect saw her and followed her home. "The suspect came in and saw her. Kerry then left the bar and headed home and he followed her," the source said. "People from the villas nearby saw the suspect hitting the woman with a baseball bat. They then saw the woman lying on the ground bleeding. "The people attempted to help, but the suspect attacked them and scared them away. He then put her in her car and drove off. He didn't use his car because he couldn't find his car keys. The neighbours called the police, but when police arrived they only found blood. They were both gone." The source said the man who had been arrested left the country briefly after the incident. "He left for the UK on August 22nd and returned on the 25th and was arrested on arrival. "The man is still being investigated. In his statement, he claimed to have dropped Ms Winter off at the Arabian Ranches roundabout. The police have searched the area but have not found anything yet." Ms Winter moved to Dubai seven years ago, and has been working for International Conferences and Exhibitions. Her brother described her as a "very private person" who enjoyed socialising once she got to know people properly. More than 1,900 people have signed up to a Facebook group set up by her relatives, Help Us Find Kerry, and messages of support from around the world have been posted on the site. One relative, Natasha Giles, said: "We have been holding prayer vigils this whole weekend, loads of family members have stopped by and we prayed together every hour." Beatrice Madeleine, from the UAE, wrote: "We are from Abu Dhabi and very distraught that such a horrible situation could happen in our country. It is our holy month too and our prayers will join yours. May God bless you and send you back your loved one." Oksana Quisch, a friend of Ms Winter, wrote: "I knew Kerry not so long, we work together and every Saturday we go to the beach. She is a very great person, strong and lovely. I hope she is fine and can't believe that somebody can do something bad to her. Just look at her smile... praying for her and her family. Please Kerry, just be safe." @email:garis@thenational.ae @email:rabubaker@thenational.ae