Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Sean Emmett denies pushing new bride out of Dubai hotel window

Former MotoGP rider claims she fell out while looking for her wedding ring that had fallen from the fourth floor

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.

Ex-motorcycling champion Sean Emmett denied pushing his new bride to her death from a fourth-floor hotel window in Dubai.

Abigail Elson, 27, fell to her death from the window of the couple’s honeymoon suite in Jumeirah Creekside hotel, less than a fortnight after they married in Cape Town, South Africa, in February 2013.

Former MotoGP rider Emmett, 50, has always claimed his wife – known as Abbie – was leaning out of the window looking for her wedding ring after dropping it and had “flipped out” by accident.

But Surrey coroner’s court in Woking in the UK was told bruises on Abigail Elson’s thighs and a mark left by her leg on the floor near the window of their honeymoon suite were consistent with her being assaulted shortly before she died.

He did not look sad. He asked me for a cigarette

Joseph Samanda, Jumeirah Creekside hotel

Alexandra Felix, the lawyer representing Abbie’s parents Christopher and Carolyn Elson, told the inquest Emmett had originally told British vice consul Sam Hayes and Dubai police officers on the night that Abbie had thrown her ring but later changed his account to deflect any suggestion of a row in the minutes before her death.

She asked Emmett: “Are you now realising that your account does not really fit?

“Were you pushing her against the window? Is that how she got those bruises on the thighs? Were you forcing her to look for the ring she had thrown? Was she trying to resist you? You were much stronger than her, weren’t you?”

Emmett replied: “Not at all. It slipped out of her hand as she was playing with it. At no point was I angry or upset about it.”

The inquest earlier heard their three-year relationship was marked by explosive rows and a catalogue of incidents of reported domestic violence.

Abbie repeatedly complained to police, family and friends that Sean regularly assaulted her and had been hospitalised as a result of some of those injuries.

Emmett told the inquest that, on the night she died, Abbie had been loud and exuberant earlier in the evening, jumping on their bed and turning a music channel up loud, despite him urging her to lower the volume.

Both had been drinking heavily for nearly 12 hours and had polished off two bottles of wine and several beers over the course of the day. They then went to the hotel bar and drank six beers each in 45 minutes before returning to their room just before 1am on February 19 to drink a third bottle of wine.

Emmett denied he had been annoyed by Abbie’s drunken behaviour after she spilt wine on their bed and lost her wedding ring.

Abbie Elson performs during her final year at Cardiff University in 2006. Courtesy: Christopher and Carolyn Elson
Abbie Elson performs during her final year at Cardiff University in 2006. Courtesy: Christopher and Carolyn Elson

He said Mr Hayes was “mistaken”, adding he did not know how Abbie’s leg print had been left on the floor near the window.

But Ms Felix said: “You were being honest with Mr Hayes when you told him Abbie threw the ring.

“You realised throwing the ring was problematic in your account. There would have to be a reason.

“The reason you did not want to stick to this account is because you knew there was something untoward going on between you two.

“You have changed your account to ‘dropped’ because you knew that is better for an accident.”

Ms Felix added Abbie “knew what was to come from her previous experience with you”.

The inquest heard Emmett told police officers on the night that he tussled with Abbie and tried to pull her away from the large window with a waist-high ledge to stop her leaning out. A doctor’s report stated he had bruises on his arm consistent with that account.

But, in evidence on Friday, he denied there was any physical contact between them before her fall.

“There was no aggressive contact, no anger, no fights and no arguing,” he said.

“I was not angry with her. I was worried for her safety.”

Security guards at the hotel reported seeing Abbie fall and looking up to see Emmett standing at the window.

The inquest was shown CCTV footage of Emmett in the moments after her fall. He was seen strolling towards the lift with his hand in his pocket.

Security guard Imtiaz Rehman, who was one of the first on the scene, said Emmett appeared to be “pretending to be crying”. Fellow security guard Joseph Semanda said: “He did not look sad. He asked me for a cigarette.”

Emmett told the inquest he could not remember the sequence of events from 2013, adding: “I was in a state of shock. It was a living nightmare.”

The inquest was told Emmett went out drinking again on the night of Abbie’s death after being questioned by police.

He ran up bills of £24,000 [Dh113,847] within four months of being held on bail in Dubai on suspicion of Abbie’s murder.

During that time, he met his current wife, Beirut-born Lana Saoud.

Emmett returned to the UK with Ms Saoud in December 2013 after Dubai police closed the investigation due to insufficient evidence. He was then arrested by Surrey police but was cleared after three years without charge.

He married Ms Saoud, 30, in April 2016, despite her reporting him to police for assaulting her and breaching a domestic violence protection order.

The inquest was adjourned.

Updated: October 17, 2020 09:36 AM

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