An Uber driver was sentenced to death on Friday by a criminal court in Lebanon in connection with the rape and murder of a British embassy worker. The incident happened two years ago, according to court documents.
In 2017, Uber driver Tarek Houshi raped Rebecca Dykes who was 30 years old at that time and strangled her to death with a rope before dumping her body at a roadside.
The driver was arrested two days later after being tracked down on security camera footage and confessed to his crimes.
The National News Agency of Lebanon reported at the time that Mr. Houshi, then identified only as Tarek H., had a criminal record and had confessed to the killing of Ms. Dykes, but it was not immediately clear on Friday what crime he had been convicted of. There was suspicion that Houshi might have faked his criminal record documents in order to work as a driver in the city.
Ms. Dykes, who worked in Beirut with the Department for International Development, had got into his hire car after leaving a bar in the Lebanese capital.
The British embassy said it hoped the court’s decision would ‘provide a degree of closure’ for those close to Dykes.
‘Becky was much loved and is deeply missed,’ the embassy said in a statement.
A Lebanese judge who investigated the crime asked for the death sentence in February last year.
Judge Hanna Braidi accused Houshi of raping and killing the British embassy worker in a ‘premeditated and deliberate act’.
According to investigation report released by the judge, Ms Dykes got into Houshi’s car shortly after midnight before the car stopped by a roadside.
The woman’s body was found dumped on that roadside on December 16, strangled and showing signs of sexual assault.
Ms. Dykes had spent a night at a friend’s party in the Gemmayze District of Beirut and was last seen leaving a bar in the area, according to the report.
Sources say that Houshi’s sentence can be appealed as Lebanon is not known as a country that frequently implement death sentences.
According to Human Rights Watch, Lebanon has not carried out any execution since 2004
‘While we welcome the guilty verdict, the UK government continues to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances,’ the embassy statement said.
The victim’s family said at the time that they would ‘never fully recover’ from their loss.
‘For Becky to have her life cruelly taken away in these circumstances is devastating to our family,’ they said in December 2017.
Her family said she had ‘improved the lives of countless refugees and vulnerable host communities’ through her work in Lebanon.
Uber said at the time that it was ‘horrified by this senseless act of violence’.
Ms Dykes had previously spent four years in Hong Kong, teaching English to teenagers, Daily Mail reported. She also worked as a human rights monitor, translating documents from Chinese to English.
Relatives have since set up a charitable foundation in Ms Dykes’s name to help refugees.
Then-International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said Ms Dykes had ‘changed thousands of lives for the better’.
Uber has been under intense scrutiny worldwide for its work culture and its poor oversight of drivers.
According to the Nytimes, Uber and one of its competitors, Lyft, lobbied regulators in cities across the United States in 2014, to ease rules requiring the fingerprinting of drivers for background checks, a more thorough but time-consuming process.
In the wake of the recent killing, a Lebanese minister has warned his countrymen against riding Uber, calling the firm unsafe.