How we use Cookies

Mother is charged with kidnapping her child

THE Camberley mother caught up in a tug-of-love battle for her ten-year-old son has been formally charged with kidnapping the boy.

THE Camberley mother caught up in a tug-of-love battle for her ten-year-old son has been formally charged with kidnapping the boy.

Sarra Fotheringham, 34, appeared before a public prosecutor in Dubai after she was arrested on March 11 for attempting to snatch her son Tariq from his natural father.

The boy's natural father, Rashid Al Habtoor, had stated he would not press charges and would do what he could to get Sarra released and back to Britain.

She had flown to the United Arab Emirates on March 8 with an Arabic-speaking friend in a desperate bid to bring the boy back to her Camberley home.

But Sarra and her friend were arrested at Port Rashid trying to flee to Iraq after a plan to go to Qatar through Saudi Arabia failed.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said Sarra and her friend, Donya al-Nahi, had been charged with lesser offences because they knew the child.

Mrs al-Nahi has been charged with being an accomplice to the kidnap bid by Sarra Fotheringham.

Both charges carry a maximum of three years in jail or a fine, the spokeswoman said.

The two women have been released on bail but are now stuck in the United Arab Emirates because they have had to surrender their passports, and have to find a guarantor.

The FO spokeswoman said the hearing was conducted in English but the pair had declined the assistance of lawyers at the court.

Two consular officials were in the Dubai court to hear the proceedings, and both women gave statements to the court. No trial date has been set.

Further investigations were being carried out and there was still the possibility charges could be dropped pending inquiries.

Sarra and her friend will have to find private accommodation in the UAE while she waits for the trial, said the spokeswoman.

With her policeman husband Neil, Sarra had been engaged in a tug-of-love battle for Tariq and had flown out to Dubai despite her husband's reservations.

Tariq had been living with his natural father after courts in England ruled that they had no jurisdiction over the custody case.

A case heard in the United Arab Emirates also ruled in favour of Mr Al Habtoor, a wealthy Arab businessman.

Sarra and her friend were arrested on March 11 while trying to flee to the town of Umm Al Qasr, close to the Iraq-Kuwait border.

Papers in Dubai are claiming Mr Al Habtoor will not press charges against Sarra as a "goodwill gesture".

He also told BBC Radio 4 that he would try to make sure she was released and allowed to return home.

Husband Neil said she would not listen to his advice not to go and had sent a text message on March 10 saying that she had seen Tariq.

He said: "I was very apprehensive over the whole thing. I wasn't happy with the idea of my wife doing something as dangerous as this.

"She has always loved him so strongly and was desperate to see him and I know that if I fought against her it would have been counter-productive, so I said I would offer her as much support as possible."

On March 11 the pair — dressed in local clothes — went to the school, saw Tariq in a classroom and fled with the boy.

Reports from the Khaleej Times in Dubai said a photograph of Sarra had been circulated to all the ports.

The newspaper claimed they were trying to get to Iraq, from where they would then travel to Syria and fly to Britain.

Mr Al Habtoor had instructed bodyguards to watch Tariq but admitted: "Some of the guards might have been involved in the plot and investigations are underway.

"Six or seven people were involved in this operation. It was well planned, but Dubai police and intelligence agents helped to bring my boy back."


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
Full newsroom contact details
Tell us what's happening in your area