• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 4:13am

British women 'beaten and left stranded' following row in Guangzhou shoe shop

British shoppers say they remain stuck in China months after being beaten by shop workers and arrested following a dispute over slippers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 4:09pm

Two British women who travelled to Guangzhou on a week-long shopping trip in June remain stuck in the city two months later after an argument over counterfeit slippers led to them allegedly being assaulted.

Despite members of their families flying from Britain to China, attempts to get them onto a plane home have foundered because of a complex criminal investigation which could see them stranded in China for up to a year.

The families also say they have been left disillusioned by British diplomats in Guangzhou who they claim did little to help.

Britons Mary Idowu, 59, and Esther Jubril-Badmos, 48, from London travelled to Guangzhou on June 16 for shopping and planned to stay for a week.

But after getting into an argument over a 500 yuan (HK$630) deposit for a pair of slippers, the two were detained by police in Zhanqian, Liwan district, on June 21 for "provocation and disturbance of peace".

Their visas expired during their 38-day detention, leaving them stranded in China.

The women say that, despite paying 45,000 yuan to settle the case, police refused to cancel their bail - a condition required to apply for an exit visa - citing the on-going criminal investigation, which could take up to a year.

Jubril-Badmos said she ordered 15 pairs of slippers at 150 yuan each and put down a 500 yuan deposit. She came to collect them three days later but found they carried the brand name Gucci. Fearing the label could cause problems with British customs officials, she asked for non-branded slippers instead.

But staff in the Xinwantong clothes market told her to pay the full sum for the counterfeit items or lose her deposit.

A quarrel ensued and a male shop worker hit Jubril-Badmos, who weighs only 55 kg, in the face, she claims.

"I saw stars immediately. He pulled my hair so hard that the hair roots were plucked out," she said, adding that her right arm, face and legs were covered in blood after the attack.

After police arrived, the women say they both were taken away while the shop staff were allowed to remain free. Jubril-Badmos was later accused by Zhanqian police of causing minor injuries to the man and three other women.

The two women say they were detained and interrogated by local police and denied medical treatment until they completed a statement.

They were told to sign dozens of documents in Chinese, including a written confession, which they did not understand. After spending a week in detention centre, Jubril-Badmos was kept in hospital for 25 days as she could not stop vomiting after the assault and her blood pressure soared. Meanwhile, Idowu was kept in a detention centre with 15 people in a cell, sleeping on the floor next to a toilet.

Last month, Idowu's daughters arrived from Britain to try to secure their mother's release. On July 29th, the Liwan district prosecutor refused to prosecute the case against the women, citing inadequate evidence, which finally led to them being released on bail. However, they remain in legal limbo.

Laura Idowu, 20, Mary's youngest daughter and a law student in the UK, said: "It's indescribable and I'm flabbergasted by the Chinese government and its police system. I have come to realise that there's so much corruption in the police force."

Desperately wanting to go home, they say police suggested they could settle the case by paying compensation to the shoe shop. However, they were told they had to pay 207,580 yuan, which included 35,000 yuan for a jade bracelet and 150,000 yuan for a diamond ring.

"It's been unfair … I think they took advantage of us because we're foreigners in a foreign land," Jubril-Badmos said. They say they finally paid 45,000 yuan to settle the case, but police refused to relax bail conditions, citing ongoing investigations.


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This article is now closed to comments

Seriously ? How can someone be so stupid to say such a thing and by the way they paid already read the article
It's only one part of the story. SCMP have not taken the trouble to interview the Chinese vendor nor the Chinese authorities nor the British Consulate & jumped straight into judgement that the Chinese vendor/China & even the British Consulate are all wrong. Maybe they're right but I always take a grain of salt when stories like these are so one sided.
Well for all of you China lovers...this looks like it is the future. Buy something or get your but kicked and sent to jail.
Chaz_hen, you wrote: "Can you imagine how swamped Chinese consulates would be all over the world if their citizens came crying to them every time they felt cheated or mistreated in a commercial transaction?"
Well, actually the Chinese authorities do try to protect their citizens abroad. They usually first rank the cases by the applicant's net worth and party membership status, though.
Shuike, well the British consulate only sat by and watched a Chinese official get a suspended death penalty after they were found guilty of murdering a British national, who was both a husband and father. Maybe "some real good reasons" why the consulate accepted the situation with these two women is that it has no power to dictate what Chinese legal authorities do, no matter how criminally the authorities act.
Do you really think a consulate should get involved in e v e r y single petty commercial dispute in a foreign country?
Can you imagine how swamped Chinese consulates would be all over the world if their citizens came crying to them every time they felt cheated or mistreated in a commercial transaction?
Chaz_hen, you wrote, "Can you imagine how swamped Chinese consulates would be all over the world if their citizens came crying to them every time they felt cheated or mistreated in a commercial transaction?"
Well, actually, the Chinese consulates abroad do...they just handle them in order of the applicant's net worth and party membership standing.
A typical and common story of extortion, corruption and racism when foreigners run into trouble with Chinese crooks - and I don't just mean the shop keepers, I mean the police as well because inevitably they took a cut of the blackmail money. Dirty, filthy, rotten criminal law system.
What is the British Consulate doing?
Best thing is to stop chinese tourist from viiting UK...they dont buy anything of value anyway..and they eat only in chinese restaurant...!!!
Now you know how we filipinos gets treated by these greedy and corrupt chinese...!!!



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