Middle East

Uber driver confesses to killing Hong Kong-raised British diplomat in Lebanon

The body of Rebecca Dykes was found on the side of a road north of Beirut at the weekend

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 9:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 10:30am

A Lebanese Uber driver has confessed to killing a British diplomat in Beirut, a judicial source said.

The body of Rebecca Dykes was found on the side of a motorway in the early hours of Saturday morning. Police suggested she had been strangled.

Her body was found without any identity papers on the Metn highway, which leads out of the Lebanese capital to the north-eastern suburbs. A forensic examination suggested she had died at about 4am on Saturday.

Dykes, who was 30, had spent the evening with friends at a cafe in Gemmayze, a district of Beirut known for its bars and restaurants. She is thought to have left on her own at about midnight.

The suspect arrested on Monday morning has been named as Tariq H, a taxi driver for Uber.

The source said preliminary investigations showed the killing was not politically motivated, and that the suspect had confessed to the crime.

Uber says reports of rape are low, at one in 3.3 million journeys

The source said Dykes had hired the driver using the ride-hailing app. Lebanon’s official state news agency, NNA, said the vehicle that picked her up was identified using security camera video.

The results of two autopsies showed that Dykes had not been raped, contrary to media reports, but investigators believe the suspect had attempted to sexually assault her, the source said.

A spokesman for Uber said in an email: “We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way we can.”

The British ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, tweeted about Dykes’s death: “The whole embassy is deeply shocked, saddened by this news. My thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss.

Uber agrees to settle US lawsuit filed by India rape victim

“We’re providing consular support to her family and working very closely with Lebanese authorities who are conducting the police investigation.”

A family spokesman said: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened. We request that the media respect our privacy as we come together as a family at this very difficult time.”

Dykes worked as a programme and policy manager with the Department for International Development and as a policy manager with the Libya team at the Foreign Office, according to her LinkedIn page.

She had previously worked as an Iraq research analyst with the Foreign Office. She had a degree from Manchester University and a masters in international security and global governance from Birkbeck, University of London. She was raised in Hong Kong.

Shock and sympathy after death of Hong Kong-raised British diplomat in Lebanon

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Following the death of a British woman in Beirut, we are providing support to the family. We remain in close contact with local authorities. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.”

The information branch of Lebanon’s internal security forces, the intelligence department of the police, is conducting the investigation.