British holidaymaker died after being beaten by guards in Dubai, inquest told

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Lee Brown

Lee Brown (Image: SWNS )

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A British holidaymaker died after being beaten and starved by cruel guards in a notorious Dubai police station, an inquest has been told.

The family of Lee Brown, 39, said officials there did not do enough to prevent his death as they accuse the Foreign Office of putting diplomatic relations above the welfare of the businessman.

Officials in the Gulf state told them that Mr Brown had beaten himself up after ‘throwing his arms around’, the Mirror reports. 

But fellow inmates had called the family, at great personal risk to themselves, to tell them that he was being beaten and starved by the police and needed help or he would die.

Mr Brown had flown to the Gulf state on 6 April 2011 and planned to stop off for a few days on his way to visit his girlfriend in Indonesia.

Walthamstow Coroners Court was told he allegedly assaulted a maid at the Burj Al Arab Hotel the following day before being taken to the notorious Bur Dubai police station, where he died five days later.

Inquest jurors were told no footage of the alleged incident or his time in the police station has ever been provided by authorities in the UAE, despite having been requested.

Dubai

Dubai (Image: Getty )

Mr Brown, from Dagenham, East London, loved travelling and was considering converting to Islam in order to marry his girlfriend who he had been dating for around a year.

He would work seven-day weeks running his building, painting, decorating business to save money to jet off around the world.

Mr Brown claimed in a statement taken after his arrest that someone who did not work at the hotel had come in and pushed him out.

When he returned, he said 20 people were in his room and he was later beaten and dragged to the police station in just his underwear.

On April 8 he was taken to the public prosecutor’s office where he is said to have thrown himself on the floor, jumped on chairs and sustained superficial injuries to his face, arm and chest.

He then spent four days detained in the prison where his condition deteriorated.

In the evening of April 11, his brother Steve and sister-in-law Susanne received a panicked call from another detained Brit who told them their loved one was “in a very bad way” and at risk of dying in custody.

The inmate told them: “You have got to get help. If it carries on, Lee could die.” They said Mr Brown had blood on his forehead from an injury and was handcuffed in solitary confinement.

They added: “He has been beaten badly by the police, he is in a really bad way. Get help and get the British Embassy to ask for help immediately.”

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Lee Brown

Lee Brown (Image: SWNS )

Dubai

Dubai (Image: Getty )

At around 2am the next morning the same inmate called and told Susanne: “Did you call the embassy? They have got him in solitary, they have beaten him bad, he is unconscious on the floor, he needs help.

“The Dubai police have beaten him very badly, he has not been fed or given water, he has been in solitary handcuffed, there are shackles around his ankles, he seems to be sleeping and is going in and out of consciousness.

“There is blood dripping down his face and chest from a nose injury and he has a cut to the temple area of his head.”

Another inmate, who was French, also told them: “You have to get help for him, he hasn’t eaten or drank for days.”

His sister-in-law contacted the Foreign Office immediately after both calls, but claims officials were very “dry” with the family.

Just hours later a Foreign Office official visited the prison but was told Mr Brown was asleep and turned away.

Days later after Lee’s death, Steve and Susanne flew to Dubai and visited the police station, prosecutor’s office and hotel within 24 hours before flying back as they were too afraid to sleep there.

Susanne told the court their conversation with a police station official was “vague and disjointed” and their requests to see CCTV were turned down.

The couple were told CCTV showed Mr Brown had beaten himself up “by throwing his arms around”, but when they asked to see the footage they were told it was “too grainy”.

Susanne told the coroner: “This is something he kept repeating and repeating despite telling us footage from the police station showed him throwing himself around and injuring himself repeatedly.”

They also visited the Chief Prosecutor in his office who was said to have been “quite manic” with the family and had a “bizarre presentation.” Again they were not allowed to view the footage.

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Dubai

Dubai (Image: Getty )

Mrs Brown added: “He told me (after his death) the prosecution against him was being dismissed, as if we were supposed to be grateful for this as they could have continued to prosecute him after death, as if we should be happy they were being dropped.

“He just wanted us to go away.”

She added: “There are many unanswered questions about the circumstances that led to his death.

“I believe he was beaten, starved and left to die in the horrific circumstances of solitary confinement, and that the authorities in the UK did nothing to preserve his life.

“If the inmates had not called then very little would be known about what happened to Lee.”

“It really worries us as a family that Dubai is promoted as a really safe place to go and travel to, it is a friendly country, it is not like Afghanistan, we trade with them, there are treaties in place, it is a safe country to travel to for a holiday.

“I don’t know if people are aware that they would get very little support if something went wrong.”

GP records read to jurors said he had struggled with depression between 2001 and 2004 after his father passed away in his arms from a stroke.

He had no medical conditions and was not taking medication when he left for Dubai, but his sister-in-law told the coroner a mental health episode was the only credible explanation for his alleged behaviour at the hotel.

The jury inquest, which is being presided over by Area Coroner for East London Nadia Persaud, continues and is expected to last until Friday.



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