Sunday, November 3, 2013

Qatar: Elusive Details Concerning Murder of British Expat Lauren Patterson, 24

According to the BBC, the suspected murder of a young primary school teacher from south-east London has deeply upset British expatriates living in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Yet, two weeks after Lauren Patterson, 24, disappeared following a night out in the capital of Doha, officials have given few details about her disappearance.

DNA analysis has been carried out on the remains of a body found in a remote area of desert, yet local officials have not yet been released.

When Patterson went out on the town on October 11, after returning to Qatar from a trip home to the UK for her grandmother's funeral, Patterson and a female friend decided to go to Club 7 on the seventh floor of the luxury La Cigale Hotel, where expats from around the world mingle and dance.

Everyone entering the club has their ID checked and they are watched by formidable bouncers and security cameras.

It is believed that in the early hours of the morning, the two women left with two local men they knew who had offered to drive them home. Patterson's female friend was dropped off safely, but she went missing the following day.

COMMENT: Subsequently, in the days ahead, a badly burned corpse was found. Two suspects were later detained, although no details about them have been confirmed.

Although local police contend that violent crime is a rarity, the reality is that many foreign women are victimized, raped and assaulted in Gulf states on a regular basis, largely because most governmental organizations in the Gulf are dominated by men.

Alison Patterson, Lauren's mother, has since flown to Doha and is awaiting further news about her daughter.

Qatar, the tiny, but very wealthy Gulf state, which is the biggest exporter of natural gas in the world, relies heavily on its growing foreign workforce. It now has some 17,500 British residents. Most are attracted by the high living standards and high tax-free salaries.

According to THE DAILY MAIL, The last friend to see British schoolteacher Lauren Patterson alive has spoken of her guilt in allowing her to get in a car with the men suspected of her murder.

Frenchwoman Lea Monet had spent the evening with Lauren in a nightclub in Doha and the pair agreed to the offer of a lift home from two men they had been drinking with.

Monet, 22, reluctantly got out of the car at her apartment, leaving  Patterson with the men as the teacher insisted she was in  safe hands.
One of the men later sent a text message to Monet saying her friend safe and sound, but  hours later Lauren’s charred remains were discovered dumped in the desert.

It is believed that Lauren was stabbed to death at the home of one of her assailants. Her body was later burned beyond recognition.

The alleged assailants have been arrested on suspicion of murder and are expected to face the death penalty if convicted under sharia law. 

From all indications, a group of men who the two women knew casually kept coming over to their table and buying them drinks. Later that night, the two women left Club 7 with the two men at approximately 0100 hours.

The foursome stopped at Monet’s apartment first and she got out. ‘Lauren said she would be fine and the three of them drove off,’ she said. "It is a decision I will regret for the rest of my life."

Monet sent a text to one of the two men, whose name she does not want to reveal, asking if her friend had got home safely and he replied "Lauren is all good."

The next afternoon Monet still had not heard from Lauren. Monet met the driver the next day to ask for an explanation and, noticed a cut on his lip, causing her to become suspicious and contact police.

The day after, Monet discovered that Lauren's body had been found in the desert.

The alleged suspects are thought to have dug a pit in the desert which they filled with charcoal before pouring gasoline on Lauren’s body and setting it alight and fleeing.

Due to the remoteness of the location that Lauren's body was found, it is unlikely her remains would have been discovered  but for a local falconer who was in the area working his bird of prey when the bird was attracted to the burning corpse and led him to it.

A Doha police source revealed that Miss Patterson’s body was so badly burned that it was reduced to ashes apart from a piece of her skull and cartilage from her feet.

Police are expecting to make more arrests in connection with Lauren Patterson’s murder and said the net apparently is closing on their suspects.

Forensic analysts have not been able to ascertain whether Patterson was sexually assaulted or raped and a knife believed to have been the one used to kill her was found in the remains of the fire. A mouth brace worn by Ms. Patterson is also thought to have survived the blaze.

Inasmuch as Lauren's remains were reduced to ash, one can only hope that the Qatari government will reach out to law enforcement in developed nations to assist them in determining whether the remains are in fact those of Lauren Patterson.

Patterson’s boyfriend, James Grima, a Maltese IT technician, was too upset to speak this week at his family's home in Malta.  Yet, hopefully, in time, he will be able to assist the police in Doha with information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of Lauren's assailants.

Clearly, this is a very tragic event that catapults Lauren's family into sudden grief, from a constructive standpoint, young adults inexperienced with the dark side of today's perilous, unpredictable world should learn powerful lessons from Lauren's tragedy:

1. Young women working as expats in the Arab world should always be cautious of predators, as they exist in large numbers everywhere;

2. Single women, particularly in Arab nations, should, if at all possible, avoid going to nightclubs solo, as they are often put in jeopardy, particularly if their tolerance for alcohol is low;

3.  It is generally not a good practice for single women in nightclubs to accept drinks sent to their table by men whose bona fides are unknown, otherwise they will be beholding to such men, who may offer them rides late at night;

4. It would have been far more prudent and cautious of Patterson and Monet to have diplomatically declined the assailants' offer to drive them home and simply called for a taxi by phone;

5. It also would have been more cautious of the two women to have gotten out of the assailants' vehicle at Ms. Monet's residence at which point the two women could have called for a radio-controlled taxi to ensure Patterson arrived home safely; and

6. Simply based upon so many misfortunes described in my nearly 2,600 postings in recent years, it is essential that young adults of both genders learn how to have a well-honed personal security awareness in today's world, even though subliminally they believe they will live forever, which is not the case at all.