Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

Sean Emmett started new relationship in Dubai just three months after wife’s death, inquest hears

Emmett continued to spend Abbie Elson’s money after she died, giving an amount to his new girlfriend

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 motorcycle champion Sean Emmett started a relationship in Dubai while under investigation for his wife’s murder and transferred part of her money to his new girlfriend’s account, an inquest heard on Thursday.

Emmett, now 50, started dating Beirut-born Lana Saoud in Dubai three months after his wife Abigail Elson fell to her death from their fourth-floor honeymoon suite in the city.

The inquest was told he continued to spend Abbie’s money after she died in February 2013, less than two weeks after they were married on a beach in South Africa.

She was awarded compensation of £35,000 ($45,168) from a hospital trust in late 2012 for a botched operation on her appendix six years earlier.

While part of her payout went towards the wedding, Emmett spent the rest after she died on debts and maintaining his lifestyle while on bail in Dubai for 10 months.

And in October 2013, he transferred some of the compensation cash to Ms Saoud, who is now his wife.

“I had no way of accessing my money in Dubai,” Emmett told the hearing, when asked why he had transferred the money to her account.

Friends hoped the payout would lead to Abbie leaving Emmett because she had not been able to afford to do so earlier.

In December 2012, she emailed her close friend Dana Hashem to tell her the news.

Abbie said she stashed the money somewhere safe “so that Sean does not touch it without permission".

"I am not dumb," she said. "Sean would have me for every penny.”

The inquest heard the money was kept in the bank account of Emmett’s racing friend Steve Wheatman, who helped to organise their wedding.

After Abbie died, Mr Wheatman transferred sums to Emmett.

Emmett returned to the UK in December 2013 when Dubai police closed their murder investigation.

He was arrested when he landed at London Heathrow airport and investigated by Surrey police, who eventually closed their inquiries without any charges after three years.

But they prosecuted him for assaulting Ms Saoud and breaching a domestic violence protection order in 2015.

Emmett married Ms Saoud, now 30, in April 2016, shortly after serving three months in prison for the offences.

She told police he tried to throttle her and left her with bruises and finger marks on her neck. But she later withdrew her statement.

Abbie married Emmett in Cape Town in February 2013, despite years of complaining to police, friends and family of his violence towards her, the inquest was told.

They began dating in May 2010 and quickly moved in together, but by December that year she was regularly carrying bruises and injuries, and became known to the domestic violence team in her area.

In July 2011, Abbie's ear had to be stitched back together after she suffered severe cuts in an alleged assault.

She also complained to police that Emmett had choked her until she was nearly unconscious and threw knives and glasses at her.

Emmett’s neighbour, Paul Chitty, told the inquest he often heard their screaming matches.

Mr Chitty told the inquest that a month before their wedding, he found Abbie in his garden with a large indentation on her right cheek, which she said she got when Emmett slammed her face into a car door.

Abbie sought medical help four weeks before her wedding for bruises on her chest from an alleged assault.

And in December 2012, she rang police begging for advice on how to leave Emmett.

In the inquest hearing on Thursday, Emmett refused to comment when asked about the incidents and his alleged violent episodes.

But he admitted he used “excessive force in self-defence” towards Ms Saoud.

Emmett said Abbie had fallen from their hotel window during their honeymoon after an all-day drinking binge.

He told the inquest she had dropped her wedding ring and was leaning out of the window to try to see it in the bushes below.

But the inquest heard that immediately after his arrest, Emmett told Sam Hayes from the British embassy in Dubai that she had thrown the ring.

And in text messages to a friend, he said Abbie had been threatening to jump.

“She just played with fire and got burnt in the worst possible way,” Emmett wrote.

He told the hearing: “If I could turn the clock back, I would have given Abbie a bear hug, taken her from that window and taken her back down with me to find that ring. I didn’t but I wish I had.”

When asked if he had played any part in her fall from the window, he replied: “No, absolutely not.”

The inquest continues.

Updated: October 16, 2020 09:51 AM

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