x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Suspect in Winter case to answer charges in Dubai

The ex-boyfriend of Kerry Winter will appear in court tomorrow charged with issuing verbal threats and placing people's lives in danger.

DUBAI // The ex-boyfriend of Kerry Winter will appear in court tomorrow charged with issuing verbal threats and placing people's lives in danger. MA, a British national, has been in police custody since Aug 25, after he was arrested at Dubai International Airport after arriving on a return flight from the UK. Ms Winter, 35, an event organiser who moved from Johannesburg to Dubai more than seven years ago, disappeared on Aug 20. She was last seen at her villa in Al Barsha, being beaten with a stick or a baseball bat, and then bundled into a car.

MA, 42, will appear before the Dubai Misdemeanours Court charged with issuing verbal threats to one of the witnesses of the attack. The accused has confessed to attacking Ms Winter and dumping her body in an undisclosed location. Police said he would not be tried for murder unless the missing South African woman's body was found. A police source said earlier that people who saw the attack tried to help, but the suspect attacked them and scared them away.

The attacker then put Ms Winter in her car and drove off, witnesses told police. They said he did not use his own car because he could not find his car keys. Neighbours called the police but when officers arrived Ms Winter and the attacker were both gone and only blood traces could be found on the ground where witnesses said Ms Winter fell bleeding. The senior prosecutor Ahmad al Adhab said on Sunday he was waiting for reports from investigators before filing formal charges in Ms Winter's disappearance. He said charges would be filed only when the investigation was complete, pointing out that he would be interviewing more witnesses and may interview MA again if new evidence came to light.

The reports include DNA tests on blood samples taken from the scene of the attack, physical evidence gathered from Ms Winters' vehicle, which was found abandoned, and M A's residence and his boat, which was impounded by police. Mr Adhab said only at the conclusion of the investigation would the prosecution decide when to stop waiting for Ms Winters' body to turn up and refer the defendant to court. He said the prosecution's case would be built solely on the physical evidence and witness testimony and the charge filed would be one that the evidence supported. He said the suspect could face charges ranging from manslaughter to accidental death, which the court could later amend as it saw fit. "They could either reduce the charges or increase them, it is up to the court," Mr Adhab said. He explained that a body would help prosecutors in proving a premeditated murder charge, as the examination of a corpse could determine how violently an individual died and whether there was a struggle. M A has changed his statement a number of times - at one time claiming he dumped Ms Winter's body along the Dubai-to-Al Ain road near Marmoum, then claiming he dumped her out at sea. He has admitted hitting Ms Winter but has not confessed to intentionally killing her. Ms Winter's brother, Kurt, left his home in South Africa and has been in Dubai since his sister went missing in a desperate bid to find her or seek justice. Mr Winter's nephew has joined him on searches in the desert and around the city. hbathish@thenational.ae