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Friday, November 23, 2012

British woman is jailed for three months in Dubai for having sex in the back of a taxi

A British woman and an Irish man convicted under Dubai's indecency laws for having drunken sex in the back of a taxi have been sentenced to three months in jail, followed by deportation.

Rebecca Blake, a recruitment executive from Dorking who was suspended by her employers Manpower after the incident in May, and Conor McRedmond, a welder from Tullamore, Co Offaly, were found guilty of having consensual sex outside marriage. They will appeal, their lawyer told Reuters.

The pair had denied charges of "breach of honour with consent" and committing an indecent act in a taxi, but admitted a charge of drinking alcohol in public, for which they were each fined 3000 dirhams (£513).

Although Blake spent a few days in prison after the incident, she has been staying with friends since. She is not allowed to leave Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where she had been working for Manpower since last September.

Previous hearings of the misdemeanours court reported in the National, an English language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, had been told the expats had met at a hotel where they had been drinking heavily before they were picked up by a taxi whose driver had claimed their directions had been vague. The driver said he had seen McRedmond, 27, drinking from a bottle during their journey and soon after saw Blake, 29, topless sitting on his lap.

The driver parked the taxi and called over a police officer who said he saw Blake without underwear sitting on McRedmond whose trousers were around his knees. The pair denied having sex; Blake said McRedmond had helped her regain her balance as she was drunk. A forensic report found no DNA evidence to prove intercourse.

Manpower said in a statement: "This alleged event occurred outside of normal work hours. We do not comment on ongoing investigations."

The Foreign Office said it was aware of the case. "We have offered and stand ready to provide consular assistance to the individual," said a spokesman.

The UAE has about 55,000 UK residents and an additional one million British visitors every year. Foreign Office travel advice says sex outside marriage is illegal. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public.

It is illegal to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public, outside licensed pubs and clubs in Dubai. Non-Muslim residents can seek a licence to drink at home or in a licensed bar but must seek a different one in each emirate.

In 2008 a British couple was found guilty of engaging in drunken sexual activity outside marriage and in public on a beach in Dubai. They were sentenced to three months in prison followed by deportation but had their jail terms suspended on appeal and were then forced to leave the country.    

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