herald

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Fears for deaf wife held by paradise kidnap gang

POLICE in Kenya have arrested a man suspected of being involved in the murder of a British holidaymaker and the kidnap of his widow from an exclusive beach resort.

David Tebbutt (58) and his wife Judith (56) were on holiday at the remote Kiwayu Safari Village, close to the Kenyan border with Somalia, when the attack happened during the early hours of Sunday.

District Commissioner Stephen Ikua was reported as saying a local man had been arrested on suspicion of helping with the attack.

The Kenyan army has joined the hunt for Mrs Tebbutt.

Officials have said the Tebbutts were attacked on their first night at the resort.

There are suspicions that the gang, thought to be from Somalia, used a speedboat to get away from the isolated island resort, which has played host to artist Tracey Emin, actress Imelda Staunton and Mick Jagger.

The couple had come from visiting the Masai Mara reserve and were the only guests.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere told a press conference it was possible that Mr Tebbutt had "resisted", which may have been why he was shot.

He said that if the attackers were hoping for a ransom for Mrs Tebbutt, it was likely they would get in contact.

There has been speculation that the kidnappers could be from an al-Qa'ida-linked insurgent group called al Shabab, which holds much of southern Somalia.

Friends fear Mrs Tebbutt, who is deaf, won't be able to hear her kidnappers.

"Judy only has about 30pc hearing. Once the batteries in her hearing aid run out she will have great difficulty with what people are saying," one close friend said.

"It is heartbreaking to think of her in this awful situation."

Mr Tebbutt, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, worked for publisher Faber & Faber and was a member of the Book Trade Charity, which offers support and grants to those in the book trade.

Chief executive David Hicks said: "He was a lovely chap, he was on the grants committee. He was a very caring person and very concerned about the people we were supporting."

The Foreign Office said that a team had been deployed to the area from the High Commission in Nairobi and were "offering all possible support to the family of those involved".

A spokesman said: "We are working to secure the safe and swift release of the British national who has been kidnapped and ask those involved to show compassion and release the individual immediately."

It warned against "all but essential travel to within 30km of Kenya's border with Somalia".

hnews@herald.ie

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