Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

Sean Emmett 'choked his wife years before she died in Dubai'

Police say the couple had an abusive relationship with Abbie Elson once taken to a refuge for her safety, before she fell from a Dubai hotel window in 2013

Sean and Abbie Emmett were spending two days in Dubai on their way to the UK after marrying in South Africa in 2013. Abbie died after falling from the fourth floor of Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Al Garhoud.
Sean and Abbie Emmett were spending two days in Dubai on their way to the UK after marrying in South Africa in 2013. Abbie died after falling from the fourth floor of Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Al Garhoud.

Former motorbike champion Sean Emmett tried to strangle his wife two years before she fell to her death from a fourth-floor window, an inquest heard on Thursday.

Emmett grabbed Abbie Elson, then his girlfriend, by her throat and tried to throttle her until she nearly passed out, detective constable Caroline Snape, of Surrey Police, told the hearing in Surrey.

Elson, who died at the age of 27 during a holiday with Emmett in Dubai in 2013, told police officers two years earlier she was “very frightened” because of his tendency to “flip out for no reason, which scares me”. Emmett had thrown knives and glasses at her during his outbursts, she told police.

Officers recorded a catalogue of incidents in which they were called to the home Elson shared with 50-year-old Emmett after she complained he had attacked and threatened to kill her. They deemed Elson to be at “high risk” because of Emmett's history of violence with a number of women.

Despite being taken to a refuge on one occasion and asking officers for help to leave him, Elson kept returning to their home in New Haw, Surrey, because, she told them, she had no close friends or family and nowhere else to go.

“He strangled her to near-unconsciousness and broke her tooth. None of those incidents were reported at the time,” Ms Snape told the inquest.

The policewoman said the domestic violence team became aware of the danger to her when Elson, in desperation, jumped in front of a moving car in January 2011. Although it missed her, she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act because police feared for her safety if she returned home.

He strangled her to near-unconsciousness and broke her tooth. None of those incidents were reported at the time

Caroline Snape, Surrey Police

A police report from the time reads: “She said she was sick of living two lives. Emmett is considerably older and has an extremely controlling influence over her.

“She left him over Christmas due to the abuse but took him back this year because she loves him and has nowhere to go.”

While sectioned, Elson revealed a series of episodes of domestic abuse in their then seven-month relationship, including the choking incident, Ms Snape said.

On another occasion, he threw her across the bed so forcefully, she smashed into the bedside table.

Elson described Emmett as “very controlling and jealous”, monitoring her phone calls and spending and frequently accusing her of cheating on him. She told police he assaulted her at least once a week, the inquest heard.

But she returned to living with him, telling police: “You can’t help who you love.”

Within two months, she was once again the victim of an assault, the inquest was told.

Emmett became abusive after an all-day drinking binge at a beer festival, Ms Snape said.

He punched Elson in the face and threw her around the bathroom, the inquest was told. He denied assaulting her and no action was taken.

In July 2011, he was questioned by police after Elson's ear was ripped during an alleged two-hour-long attack. She told officers: “He was punching, slapping and grabbing me. I was ducking and trying to get out of his way.

“I was scared he was going to get closer and keep hurting me. This has happened before.”

Emmett denied attacking her and told police she had a drinking problem. Elson later withdrew her statement and said: “I just want to move on from this.”

The pair reunited, but it was not long before police were called again to deal with their explosive rows.

In one incident, Elson locked Emmett out of the flat. In another episode, Emmett claimed she had thrown a glass at him. Elson said she had done so in self-defence.

Ms Snape told the inquest police officers were often unable to speak openly to Elson because Emmett monitored her calls and on one occasion, had smashed her phone.

The penultimate time police were called to their home was in September 2012, jut five months before their wedding in South Africa and her subsequent fall from the window of their honeymoon suite in Dubai.

Elson “found it very difficult to talk about her situation”, Ms Snape told the inquest.

Officers recorded that she had no means of earning her own money, no friends to turn to, and was “completely isolated”.

She told police she was desperate for a reprieve and a night away to “think clearly and breathe”.

Her last contact with police was in November 2012, shortly before the couple left to get married, when she asked for “advice on how to leave her partner”, Ms Snape said.

“She seemed nervous and anxious to leave.”

Instead, the couple flew to Cape Town in January 2013 for a beach wedding, before travelling to Dubai for a two-night stopover on the way home.

During their first night in Dubai, Elson fell to her death from the window of their suite in the Jumeirah Creekside hotel.

Emmett said she had dropped her wedding ring while smoking by the window and was leaning out to see if she could find it.

The inquest continues.

Updated: October 8, 2020 11:03 PM

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