A devastated mum is urging women to wear personal alarms after her daughter was raped and throttled to death by an Uber driver while working abroad.
Jane Houng spoke after 30-year-old Rebecca Dykes was strangled by Tariq Houshieh using the cords of his hoodie.
The British embassy employee was trying to get home in the capital of Lebanon after a ‘girls night out’ at a popular tourist bar in December 2017.
Her body was later found discarded at a roadside. Houshieh, 34, was handed a death sentence in 2019, but he is appealing to have it commuted.
In an emotional speech via video link at a much-delayed inquest today into the horror, Jane said: ‘I just hope that no parent has to go through what we have had to go through.
‘One thing that pained me very much was that now embassy staff wear personal alarms.
‘I think if Rebecca had been wearing a personal alarm at that point in time it probably would have saved her life.
‘When I went to Lebanon shortly after her death and sat around the table with Rebecca’s friends and colleagues they all said they used Uber. It was common place for personal travel.’
Rebecca had been working for the Department for International Development helping Lebanon cope with refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
It was revealed Houshieh was working as a taxi driver, despite having a criminal record and twice being arrested for alleged harassment and theft.
At the Inner South London Coroner’s court in Southwark, senior coroner Andrew Harrison quizzed the British embassy in Beirut’s post security officer Alyson King about protection arrangements in place for staff.
Ms King insisted staff have a security brief on arrival, carry personal alarms, have monthly security meetings, regular workshops and women’s-only sessions.
In 2017 workers were advised to only use three vetted taxi companies for personal travel, which were named in a security brief.
But Ms King admitted: ‘It came to light afterwards, many staff were using other taxi companies when they found them convenient.’
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office head of security Bharat Joshi said a special security visit after Rebecca’s death concluded the ‘security culture was very, very strong’.
Joshi also claimed many staff ‘choose to not follow that advice’.
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