Uber driver sentenced to death for murder of British diplomat

2 weeks ago
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An Uber driver has been sentenced to death for the murder of a British embassy worker in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

Tarek Houshieh had already confessed to the “senseless” attack on 30-year-old Rebecca Dykes, whose body was found dumped by the side of a highway on 16 December 2017.

She had been strangled with a rope, with choke marks found on her neck.

Lebanese judges routinely call for death sentences in cases of murder, however the country has an unofficial moratorium and has not carried out an execution since 2004.

Rebecca Dykes who was found strangled beside a road in Beirut, according to officials
Image: Rebecca Dykes was found strangled beside a road in Beirut

Ms Dykes had been out in the Gemmayzeh area of Beirut with work colleagues the Friday night before she was found, and she hailed an Uber after leaving a bar on her own at around midnight.

She was picked up by Houshieh, who was working for the cab firm despite reports that he had a criminal record.

Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar reported that he had previously spent six months in prison for stealing a motorcycle, and AFP reported he had twice been arrested for alleged harassment and theft related to customers.

More from Beirut

Uber denied those claims at the time and said it was “horrified” by the murder, but it saw Lebanese people warned to stop using the app and instead flag down traditional taxis.

After the murder, Lebanese interior minister Nohad Machnouk called Uber a “virtual” entity that is “not safe”.

Houshieh, who is a Lebanese national, was booked to bring Ms Dykes home from her night out – but instead raped her and choked her to death before driving to the Metn highway to get rid of her body.

Ms Dykes' body was found by the side of the Metn highway in Beirut
Image: Ms Dykes’ body was found next to the Metn highway

The death of Ms Dykes was reported on the day her body was found, but Houshieh had tried to further cover his tracks by disposing of her purse and identity papers.

He was arrested just a few days later after police tracked his car using CCTV cameras and traced activity on his phone, and the killer quickly confessed to his crimes.

Rebecca Dykes
Image: Rebecca Dykes’ family said she was ‘genuine and generous’

Following the murder of Ms Dykes, her family launched the Rebecca Dykes Foundation.

They said she was “simply irreplaceable” and “wanted to make the world a better place” – and set up the foundation to improve the lives of refugees and vulnerable communities in Lebanon.

According to her LinkedIn profile, she had been working at the British embassy as a programme and policy manager for the international development department at the time of her death.

Cars pass near the area where Ms Dykes' body is believed to have been found outside Beirut
Image: Cars pass near the area where Ms Dykes’ body was found

Before that she studied anthropology at the University of Manchester and did a masters in international security and global governance at the University of London.

She attended Malvern St James Girls’ School in Worcestershire and a Chinese international school, having grown up in Hong Kong.

Friends said she was due to fly back to the UK for Christmas on the Saturday that her body was found.

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