x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Motorist who reversed over woman 'only meant to scare her'

An Emirati man who killed a woman by reversing over her in his car only meant to scare her, his lawyer says.

DUBAI // A young motorist who reversed his Hummer over a 52 year old Scottish woman meant only to scare her, not kill her, his lawyer said yesterday at his trial for premeditated murder. Abdelmenem Suwaidan asked the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance to reduce the charge against his client to accidental death. He also urged the court to take account of the defendant's youth. Mr Suwaidan said a companion of Katherine Wood, the victim, had incensed AA, the 22-year-old Emirati driver, by making an offensive gesture at him. Swearing and obscene gestures are criminal acts.

Mrs Wood, who was out celebrating her 52nd birthday with her husband and two friends, died from her injuries after being run over by the Hummer. The group had just arrived at the Aviation Club in Garhoud on the evening of May 30 and were getting out of a taxi when the driver of the Hummer behind them became angry at being kept waiting and got involved in an argument with one of the group. The defendant then drove past the taxi, according to the prosecution, and reversed on to the pavement, crushing Mrs Wood.

Mr Suwaidan asked the court to reduce the charge to accidental death, saying blood tests had proved Mrs Wood was intoxicated and so was unable to move out of the way fast enough. He said the group's taxi was blocking traffic and added that Mrs Wood was standing in the road when she was hit, not on the pavement as the prosecution stated. In addition, AA could not see clearly behind him when he reversed because of the height of his vehicle. "My client only intended to scare the victim and her group; he had no intention to kill anyone," Mr Suwaidan said.

"A crime was committed, but it was nowhere as ugly as the prosecution has made it out to be." He asked Judge Abdelmajid Nizami to take his client's age into consideration when sentencing. Youth is a mitigating factor under UAE law. Mr Suwaidan said prosecution witnesses had given conflicting evidence, some saying they saw the Hummer run over two or three members of the group and others saying only Mrs Wood was hit.

Mrs Wood's husband, Jeffery, said at an earlier hearing that both he and his wife were knocked down by the Hummer after which he saw the driver back up and run over his wife again. "Everything after that was a blur," he said. Five other witnesses also testified in the case: a couple who were accompanying the Woods, the taxi driver who dropped them off, another driver who saw the incident and a passer-by.

They said the defendant was angry at being kept waiting while the group got out of the taxi. @Email:hbathish@thenational.ae