Uber driver sentenced to death for killing employee of British embassy

An Uber driver has been sentenced to death for raping and murdering a British embassy worker in Lebanon.

The Mount Lebanon criminal court sentenced Tarek Houshieh on Friday, according to Lebanon’s national news agency.

The body of Rebecca Dykes, 30, was found dumped on the side of a road north of Beirut in December 2017. She disappeared after spending an evening with friends at a bar in the Gemmayzeh district in the Lebanese capital.

Houshieh picked her up while working as a taxi driver despite having a criminal record and after twice being arrested for alleged harassment and theft, according to Agence-France Presse.

He disposed of Dykes’s personal identification along with the body. Local authorities reported marks on her neck from having been strangled with a rope. Houshieh confessed to the murder in December 2017.

The death penalty is regularly handed down for murder cases in Lebanon, but there has not been an official execution since 2004, according to Human Rights Watch. Houshieh’s death sentence is likely to be commuted to life imprisonment.

Following the sentencing, Dykes’s mother, Jane Houng, said: “No mother should have to suffer so.” She said she awaited the day Houshieh sought forgiveness.

Dykes worked as a programme and policy manager with the Department for International Development at Britain’s embassy in Lebanon and as a policy manager with the Libya team at the Foreign Office (FCO), according to her LinkedIn page.

She had previously worked as an Iraq research analyst with the FCO. She had a degree from the University of Manchester and a master’s in international security and global governance from Birkbeck, University of London.

After her murder, Dykes’s family set up a foundation to prevent violence against women and to help refugees.

In a statement at the time, the family said: “Becky dedicated her career to humanitarian causes and worked tirelessly to make the world a kinder, fairer, safer and more stable place. We want to ensure that this work continues in her name.”

Scholarships under her name are now awarded by British authorities for Lebanese and Palestinian women who wish to obtain their master’s degrees in Britain, the embassy said.