Somali pirates free British hostage Judith Tebbutt

 

A British woman kidnapped from a resort island on the Kenyan coast did not know that her husband had been killed for another two weeks.

News of Judith Tebbutt's psychological ordeal came after she was freed following more than six months in captivity, when a ransom was reportedly raised by relatives.

The 56-year-old was snatched from the remote Kiwayu Safari Village, close to the border with Somalia, last September by a gang who killed her husband David, 58.

She said in a video broadcast by the BBC today: "He was a good man. That was very unfortunate, really horrible. But you just need to pick up the pieces and move on.

"I didn't know he'd died until about, I think it was two weeks from my capture. I just assumed he was alive, but then my son told me he'd died. That was difficult.

"And it must have been hard for my son as well, very hard, and he's been fantastic, he's been absolutely fantastic, I don't know how he secured my release, but he did, and I'm really happy, I can't wait to see him, really."

Mrs Tebbutt has arrived in Nairobi and was in a place of safety in the city, the Foreign Office said.

Her son, Oliver, declined to comment today.

Somali pirate Bile Hussein and Mohammed Hussein, an official with the militia Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama, said Mrs Tebbutt was released by pirates holding her today and was expected to be flown to Nairobi.

The Tebbutts, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, had arrived at the safari village after visiting the Masai Mara game reserve and were the resort's only guests.

Local MP Richard Harrington, from Watford, told Sky News: "Our thoughts are with Oliver, who must have such feelings today. Under the circumstances, he's done absolutely fantastically."

Mrs Tebbutt told ITV News the pirates made her "feel as comfortable as possible".

Speaking before she was released, she said: "My condition is good as far as I know.

"My health is good. I sleep very well here. I have been ill three times in the seven months.

"On each occasion I have had medication almost immediately and it's cleared up.

"I am really happy that I am being released and I am looking forward to seeing my son and my family and I am going home.

"I feel fine. I have had absolutely no torture whatsoever. In fact I have been made to feel as comfortable as possible by the pirates that are holding me."

Speaking to ITV News again upon her release, she said: "I am very relieved to have been released.

"Seven months is a long time and under the circumstances with my husband passing away... made it harder."

Paul Chandler, who with his wife Rachel spent 388 days in captivity after they were abducted at gunpoint by Somali pirates while sailing their yacht near the Seychelles in October 2009, told BBC News: "I hope she will have an opportunity to pick up the pieces of her life, and deal with the loss she has had."

Rachel Chandler said: "My feeling is one of relief and happiness for Judith Tebbutt and her family, that finally she is free."

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said: "We can confirm that she has been released.

"Our priority now is to get her to a place of safety.

"We will have more to say about that shortly. We are standing by to provide consular care as soon as she arrives in Nairobi."

Asked whether the Government was aware of a ransom being paid, the spokesman said: "Our position is that we do not pay ransoms and we do not facilitate concessions to hostage-takers."

Mr Tebbutt was shot when a gang raided the couple's beach cottage in the early-hours attack.

His wife, believed to be deaf and to wear twin hearing aids, is said to have been bundled into a boat which sped away from the isolated island resort.

The gang were at one point thought to be from al Qaida-linked insurgent group al Shabab, which holds much of southern Somalia, though there were also reports that the attack was carried out by pirates.

Mrs Tebbutt's mother Gladys Atkinson, 90, from Ulverston, Cumbria, told the North West Evening Mail: "At the moment I just can't believe it. It's been six months and I just can't wait to see her.

"She was born here. All the neighbours have been so nice."

Mrs Tebbutt's sister Carol McDougall, 51, added: "The last six months have been very worrying for Ollie her son, and losing David who was such a lovely man.

"I did believe this (day) would happen because Jude is very strong, she is a strong person."

In a statement released by the Foreign Office, Mrs Tebbutt said: "I am of course hugely relieved to at last be free, and overjoyed to be reunited with my son Ollie. This, however, is a time when my joy at being safe again is overwhelmed by my immense grief, shared by Ollie and the wider family, following David's passing in September last year. My family and I now need to grieve properly.

"I would like to thank everybody who has supported Ollie throughout this ordeal. I am now looking forward to returning home to family and friends whom I have missed so very much.

"I hope that while I adjust to my freedom and the devastating loss of my husband, that I and my family will be allowed space, time and most of all privacy, to come to terms with the events of the last six months."

Foreign Secretary William Hague, said: "I am delighted that Judith Tebbutt has been released following her six-month ordeal. Judith is now in the care of the British High Commission in Nairobi and has been reunited with her son, Oliver.

"Our immediate thoughts are with Judith's family and friends who have endured the ordeal of her captivity with great strength and dignity.

"David Tebbutt, Judith's husband, was killed during the attack on the couple and I send my deepest condolences to them as they continue to come to terms with his death as a family. I hope the media will respect the family's call for privacy."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future