x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Mother accused of adultery gives herself up to Dubai authorities

A British mother who went into hiding after being convicted of adultery surrendered to police yesterday.

Marnie Pearce, 40, holds her son Laith, 7, before turning herself into Dubai Courts.
Marnie Pearce, 40, holds her son Laith, 7, before turning herself into Dubai Courts.

DUBAI // A British mother who went into hiding after being convicted of adultery surrendered to police yesterday. Marnie Pearce, 40, sank to her knees outside Dubai's courthouse and sobbed as she handed over her two sons - Laith, seven, and Ziad, four - to her former husband, who accused her of cheating on him. The boys wept and tried to cling to their mother. She said they had nowhere else to go, even though she knew she may never see her sons again.

Pearce walked into the court building and demanded that police take her into custody. But officials said they could not because they did not have her file. They asked her to return after the weekend. Eventually she was taken in after breaking down and sobbing: "I have nowhere else to go. I have given up my babies and cannot take much more of this." Pearce has been fighting a year-long battle with her former husband, Ihab el Labban. They separated in Dec 2007 and Mr el Labban filed for custody of the children in February last year, then accused her of adultery, a crime in the UAE.

Pearce, who denied the charge, was sentenced in November to six months in jail and deportation. Her sentence was reduced to three months on appeal in January. When she was refused bail, she went into hiding with her children. She has a final appeal pending in March. "I have done nothing wrong," she said. "I am a good mother and while my ex-husband would not hurt a hair on the children's heads, what he is doing is wrong.

"I never had an affair. This all feels unreal. I knew I would be going to prison and just wanted four weeks with my babies so I could spend as much time with them as possible and so they would know I never intended to leave them. "I would leave them with family if I could but I have no one so I have to give them to Ihab. But I know in doing so, I may never see them again." Mr el Labban said last night: "I am the victim in this. Marnie has done horrible things."

Pearce appeared to have a change of heart at the court as she handed over the children, begging Mr el Labban to rescind his allegations and take her back so they could care for them together. But the pair failed to reach an agreement. tyaqoob@thenational.ae