Court clears mother over jetski killing

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH mother acquitted in Dubai over a fatal jet-ski crash faces a wait of up to two weeks before she can be reunited with her three children.

Dubai's Criminal Court yesterday acquitted Kathleen Morgan of all charges stemming from the collision last April with a Russian tourist on another jetski in the busy Gulf waterway known as the Creek. It was also revealed yesterday that the Russian, Mikhail Malenkov, had been drunk at the time.

Ms Morgan was charged with manslaughter and faced huge fines and possible imprisonment if convicted. But just one week after her trial opened the judge decided she was not to blame.

The verdict came so swiftly that Ms Morgan and her lawyer did not even have time to reach the court. "We had just left my lawyer's office and were getting into a taxi when the call came through from the court - I had been acquitted" she said. "It's a huge relief."

Her jubilant mother, Rose Kendrick, from Sandridge, Hertfordshire, said: " One of my grandsons woke me up to tell me. I am absolutely overwhelmed.

"We had prayed it would be all right," she said before going to mass to thank God. "We just want her home as soon as possible."

Ms Morgan said she was now desperate to see her three sons, Alistair, nine, Jonathan, seven and Nicholas, five. "I'm looking forward to seeing my boys, they're my priority and I want to get back to England to be with them."

But Ms Morgan, whose passport is being held by the court, will have to wait up to 15 days for the prosecution to decide on whether it will mount an appeal.

Her Lebanese lawyer, Michel Chalhoub, who had maintained a resolute air of optimism throughout her trial, said the evidence in her case file was strong enough to prove her innocence.

Shortly after the verdict he revealed that Mr Malenkov, 30, was drunk and not in control of his jetski. According to the case file, Malenkov, a frequent visitor to Dubai, had 0.169mg of alcohol per 100ml in his blood, enough to make him "lose co-ordination in voluntary muscle action and to cause dizziness and swaying", according to a Dubai CID definition.

Malenkov's female companion - who said she was his fiancee but also told investigators he was married to another woman - had asked the Dubai authorities to claim pounds 25,000 in "blood money" from Ms Morgan. She said it was needed in order to take care of the Mr Malenkov's daughter.

But defence lawyers say that blood money, the standard indemnity paid in the Middle East by those deemed guilty of causing a death, will not be paid in Ms Morgan's case.

"She is not quite out of the woods yet", Mr Chalhoub cautioned. "Theoretically, the Public Prosecutor still has 15 days in which to appeal against her acquittal. But I am going to ask him to shorten that period to allow her to return to her children as quickly as possible".

Ms Morgan said the strain of the last few weeks has been catching up with her. "I've been finding it difficult to sleep at nights and I only came off anti-depressant tablets on Friday." She is still deeply upset by the memory of being thrown into the water by the collision and then seeing the Russian's body floating immobile next to her.

She offers her condolences to his family and some pertinent advice to the British public. "I would say to anyone coming out to the Middle East: check your insurance to make sure you are covered for blood money in a case like this. However careful you think you are, you can't always be responsible for other people's actions".