'Sex-on-beach' trial adjourned

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The Independent Online

The trial of a British man and woman accused of having sex on a Dubai beach has been delayed for a week.

Vince Acors, 34, of Bromley, south east London, and Michelle Palmer, 36, appeared at Dubai's Court of First Instance for a short hearing today.

The case was adjourned until next Tuesday, when a police officer who allegedly saw them romping on the beach will be called to give evidence.

The pair deny having unmarried sex and public indecency, but admit they had consumed alcohol before their arrest on 5 July.

Miss Palmer, a publishing executive who had lived in Dubai for more than two years, met tourist Mr Acors at a brunch at a hotel on the emirate hours before the alleged incident.

They arrived separately for today's hearing and made no eye contact as they were called to appear before Judge Hamad Abdellatif Abdelgawad in chamber 17 of the court.

Miss Palmer wore a black trouser suit, with high heeled black shoes and a dark coloured Arabic-style scarf. Following her appearance, she left the court with the scarf covering her head and a newspaper shielding her face.

Mr Acors wore brown shoes, light blue jeans, a suit jacket and an open collar white shirt for the proceedings.

The pair made no comment as they left court.

Following the proceedings, a spokesman for the judge said: "The case has been postponed until 9 September so that they will bring the policeman who saw the incident and hear what he has to say."

The spokesman said Mr Acors and Miss Palmer, originally from Oakham, Leicestershire, had asked the judge to make a ruling today but their plea was rejected.

He added that they could bring defence witnesses to the next hearing if they wished.

At a previous hearing, Miss Palmer, in a statement to the court, said: "We were just kissing and hugging. We didn't have sex together. I was lying on top of him.

"I have been in Dubai for two-and-a-half years without committing any kind of offence. I am sorry."

Prosecutors said the case against them was based around DNA evidence, medical examinations, eyewitness accounts and a statement given to police by Mr Acors, in which he allegedly admitted having intercourse before later changing his story.

One of the witnesses - a 21-year-old Palestinian man - told police he saw the couple kissing after being dropped off by a taxi at Jumeirah Beach.

"The man lay on his back and she was on top of him," he said. "She took off her shirt and they started to have sex."

The police officer who arrested the pair described hearing "excited voices".

He added: "They didn't even see me standing there. He was kissing and playing with her chest."

Miss Palmer, who worked for ITP Publishing Group, was dismissed from her job following her arrest.

Along with Mr Acors, she was released on bail to return to the court next week. The pair are banned from leaving Dubai before the conclusion of their case.