Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 October 2020

Sean Emmett's young bride told family of abuse before her death in Dubai, inquest hears

An inquest is under way in the UK to determine if anyone was involved in the death of Abigail Elson 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.

A young bride who fell to her death from a Dubai hotel balcony had told her parents the man she went on to marry had been abusing her, an inquest heard on Monday.

Friends and family of Abigail Elson, 27, said she repeatedly sought help from them and police to protect her from her allegedly violent husband, British motorcycling champion Sean Emmett, who was then her boyfriend.

Despite their attempts to intervene she married him and, days later, fell to her death from their fourth-floor honeymoon suite in Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Garhoud, Dubai, in February 2013.

Emmett, 50, was investigated by police in Dubai and the UK over her death but both inquiries were inconclusive.

An inquest into her death, in Surrey, now aims to establish whether anyone else was involved.

Elson’s vicar father Christopher and mother Carolyn told the hearing that Abigail, known as Abbie, had begged them for help as far back as December 2010.

They said she told them Emmett assaulted her “at least once a week”, stole money from her and threw her out of the home they shared.

“I don’t know where else to turn,” their daughter told them in an email.

When they met she was excited about him but it was not long before I started to think something was awry

Dana Hashem

The couple arranged to meet their daughter the following day and found her with swollen, bruised lips.

When asked what action he took afterwards, Mr Elson told the inquest: “Not enough.”

On another occasion, talented musician Abbie fled to a refuge for abuse victims after Emmett allegedly ripped her ear, leaving her in need of stitches.

During other episodes, he is said to have smashed her drumsticks and a prized CD of the musical performance that had earned her a first in her degree from Cardiff University in Wales.

On Monday, her closest friend Dana Hashem told of several times when Abbie was thrown out of her home in the middle of winter, with no coat or shoes, after being attacked by Emmett.

The inquest heard evidence from friends and family members who reported seeing Abbie frequently sporting bruises or injuries.

But they said that on each occasion Emmett threw her out, she would return to him.

“When they met she was excited about him but it was not long before I started to think something was awry," Ms Hashem said.

“I found out he had started hitting her. She was evasive and said she could handle it.

"She said she would leave him but I think it was more to appease me than because she intended to follow through with it.”

In an email to Ms Hashem, Abbie had written: “It’s so weird. How can I love him but he can do that to me? I feel trapped on a proper emotional rollercoaster.”

Ms Hashem said she had confronted Emmett, who admitted assaulting Abbie and said he was “going through dark times and it would not happen again”.

Shortly before she died, Abbie had won £35,000 in compensation for a botched operation on her appendix six years earlier. The inquest was told the whereabouts of the money is not known.

Ms Hashem said she hoped Abbie would turn her life around after winning the payout in December 2012, and would use the money to leave Emmett.

She said Abbie had told her: “I have been sensible and the money is going into someone else’s account so that Sean does not touch it without permission. The money is safe and so am I.

“Sean is a control freak, hence the money being out of his direct control. I am not dumb. Sean would have me for every penny.”

But Ms Hashem admitted Abbie had a self-destructive streak and self-harming tendencies after the 2006 operation, which left her in constant pain.

Abbie was on strong medication and, according to her parents, had started drinking heavily to cope.

Mr and Mrs Elson said she was no longer the “happy-go-lucky, bubbly, fun-loving” girl she had once been.

Ms Hashem told the inquest: “I thought, 'This phase is coming to an end. She is going to see the light and have financial independence'.”

Despite her pledge to leave Emmett, Abbie surprised all her family and friends by announcing on Facebook in February 2013 that she had married him. None of them had known about the wedding beforehand.

The couple got married in South Africa, before flying to Dubai for what was supposed to be a two-night stopover.

Abbie died on their first night in the UAE. Emmett was held in Dubai for 10 months while police investigated her death.

He was eventually released but arrested by Surrey police as soon as he landed on British soil.

The motorcyclist was later jailed for three months in 2015 for assaulting his girlfriend at the time, Lana Saoud, 25, from Lebanon.

He punched her in the face during a meal at a hotel because he disliked the way she was eating.

The inquest will continue for two weeks.

Updated: October 6, 2020 08:45 AM

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