A former pro superbike racer beat his wife before she fell to her death from a hotel window in Dubai, an inquest heard today.
Alison Hewitt, the assistant coroner for Surrey, said the truth of how newlywed Abigail Elson died following an argument with Sean Emmett would never be known.
She added that Mr Emmett’s “inconsistencies” and lack of “truthfulness” when speaking to authorities meant she could not accept his claim that his wife accidentally fell, leaving the possibility he had pushed her.
What the coroner did conclude was that 50-year-old Mr Emmett, a former professional motorbike racer, had been violent towards his younger new bride, a vicar’s daughter, during their turbulent relationship.
Mrs Elson had plummeted to her death from the open window of her hotel room, on the fourth floor of the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai on February 19 2013.
Security guards standing in the grounds below told investigators they had seen a man standing at the window from where she had fallen, looking down.
The man in the hotel room was Sean Emmett, who had entered Room 426 nine minutes before his wife, 27-year-old Mrs Emmett, fell.
After she plummeted to the ground, where she landed in shrubbery and died of head and chest injuries, Mr Emmett could be seen on CCTV slowly walking out of the room and down the hotel corridor.
At an inquest into Ms Elson’s death held over seven years later, following an extensive murder investigation which ended in no action, Sean Emmett had claimed his wife fell by accident after leaning out of the open window – 110 centimetres in height and 60cms in width – and reaching a “pivot position” over the ledge.
However, the coroner rejected his account today, stating she did not believe he had been telling the truth on a number of points while appearing as a witness at the inquest.
Ms Hewitt said: “I have concluded that I cannot accept Sean Emmett’s evidence as a full and reliable account of what took place in the hotel bedroom during the nine minutes before Abigail fell. I have considered that, taken as a whole, Mr Emmett’s account is problematic.
“Taken as a whole, his account does not seem to me to be wholly credible. Mr Emmett suggests that Abigail was increasingly upset and was repeatedly putting herself in a precarious and dangerous position.
“He suggests that he was calm and loving throughout, failing to persuade her to come away from the window.”
Mr Emmett had told the inquest that in hindsight he wished he had restrained his wife, who he said was on a “knife edge” as she rocked back and forwards at the window ledge, until he saw her feet go in the air and disappear.
Appearing to hold back tears when asked why he did not physically intervene, Mr Emmett told the coroner sitting in Woking, Surrey: “That is a question I probably wake up to every day, if I could turn the clock back I would have literally given Abbie a bear hug, taken her from that window and taken her with me downstairs to look for that ring, but I did not and I wish I had.”
The coroner said it was difficult to understand why he had not acted, adding she believed Mr Emmett would have done so if he had been “calm and concerned” in the way he described.
Instead, the coroner suggested Mr Emmett and his wife had fallen out after enjoying a full day of drinking at their Dubai hotel, where the couple were mixing and matching alcohol.
They were celebrating after travelling around South Africa, where Mr Emmett was competing in a motorcycling tournament the South African Classic TT. He won in racing series “Day of the Champion” at Zwartkops Circuit. Reports had said the ex-500cc grand prix rider and BSB star had contested the three-round tournament on a 1976 Suzuki RG500 Mk6.
The couple had returned to their room in the evening, where Ms Elson had ordered wine to the room while Mr Emmett had taken a trip to a nearby rooftop bar, the Cuba Bar, where he accidentally fell into the swimming pool, the inquest heard.
He said after he returned to their room to change his clothes, he noticed Ms Elson’s mood was heightened.
Ms Hewitt, in her findings today, said: “She was over-excited, interrupting the man to whom they were talking in the Cuba Bar and back in the room she was playing loud music, spilling the wine and telling Sean Emmett he was boring. When he told Abigail to turn the music down, an argument started.”
Mr Emmett had insisted in his evidence at the inquest that the couple had not argued and they had together gone to their hotel window, where they were smoking and laughing. Ms Elson had taken her ring off as a joke and dropped it to the ground, Mr Emmett had said.
A transcript of Mr Emmett’s interview with Dubai police after his wife’s death recorded him as saying Ms Elson had thrown the ring, as did a note taken by a staffer from the British Consulate, who had spoken with the British national after picking him up from a police station.
Ms Hewitt, rejecting Mr Emmett’s account to the inquest, said: “On February 19 2013, Mr Emmett’s account was that Abigail had thrown her wedding ring from the window. I also find that that is what she did. My finding that Abigail threw the ring, supports my finding that by that time, all was not calm between the couple, but that they were arguing.”
The inquest had heard detailed accounts of alleged incidents of domestic abuse meted out to Abigail Elson by Sean Emmett, including six incidents where Surrey police became involved with the couple.
It was said Mr Emmett had torn Ms Elson’s ear so it required surgery and given her weekly beatings which left her with bruising.
Accepting the abuse took place, Ms Hewitt said: “I consider that it is probable that Sean Emmett would not have continued his relationship with Abigail and married her if she had consistently made false allegations against him, of a nature and seriousness that would have resulted in his prosecution and imprisonment.
“The evidence paints a picture which I find was the case, of Abigail and Sean Emmett as a couple who spent a lot of time together. When sober, they were usually happy in each other’s company, but they were both heavy drinkers and when in drink verbal altercations and sometimes physical violence could and did follow.
“I am entirely satisfied that Sean Emmett was violent to Abigail at times and it may be that the violence was sometimes mutual.”
Mr Emmett also had convictions for breaching a domestic violence protection order in 2014 made to protect his third wife Lana Saoud and was convicted of battery against her in 2015.
Despite the evidence of violence, the coroner resisted suggestions made by Ms Elson’s family that Mr Emmett could be responsible for her death, instead making a neutral “open conclusion.”
Ms Hewitt stressed that although she believed Mr Emmett had beaten his wife, this did not prove he had attacked her before she fell or that he was responsible for the death.
Concluding the inquest, Ms Hewitt said: “I do not consider that Sean Emmett has provided me with a full and truthful account.
“My conclusion that I cannot rely on Sean Emmet’s account of what happened simply leaves me unable decide what happened and where the truth lies.
“An open conclusion is the appropriate conclusion, if the evidence has failed to satisfy me to the required standard of proof for any other conclusion.”
Abigail’s parents, the Rev. Christopher Elson and his wife Carolyn, refused to comment after the inquest and left the court via a back door.