UK police to re-submit information in Maldives over death of British couple in quad bike accident

UK police are to resubmit requests from relatives of a British couple killed in a quad bike accident last year at Kuredu Island Resort, regarding their preferred method of sentencing in a Maldives court.

Swedish national, Filip Eugen Petre, a son of a shareholder in the resort, is facing trial for his alleged role in driving a quad bike at Kuredu on August 6, which crashed into a tree while carrying British nationals Emma and Jonathan Gray.

Court officials in the Maldives confirmed that the trial has been awaiting a response from relatives of the deceased couple on their preferred punishment for the accused, information one relative has said was passed on by UK police to their Maldivian counterparts a number of months previously.  However, further hearings into the trial have not been held for several months.

Director of the Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid said the trial had not progressed as court authorities were awaiting the word of the deceased couple’s families on their preferred mode of sentencing for the accused, should he be convicted.

“A Criminal Court media officer tells me that what remains in the case is to obtain the word of the family of one of the victims, as to whether they want a sentence of execution, or blood money or to forgive,” Ahmed said.

“These are the options given to the family of a murder victim in Islamic law, subsequently in our penal laws too.  The court has sent the necessary documents to the concerned parties, but that there has been no response,” he claimed.

A relation of the Grays confirmed that neither victim’s family had received any official notification from the Maldivian courts themselves.  However UK police, through a family liaison officer, confirmed that their Maldivian counterparts were informed “months ago” of the families’ preferred sentence.

“The police have said that they are going to re-submit the issue to the Maldives police today,” claimed the relation. “That’s what is holding up the case right now, [the police] do not seem to have forwarded this information to the courts.”

The relative added that while they did wish to see some form of punitive sentence for the driver if he was convicted, they did not want any severe or long-term action to be taken against the defendant.

“He’s just a young guy. We don’t want to see his life ruined,” the relative said.

Jonathan Grey’s mother Cath Davies told UK-based newspaper the Halifax Courier in March that the prospect of Petre facing the death penalty was “shocking. It’s absolutely horrendous.”

Minivan News was awaiting confirmation from the Maldives Police Service at the time of press as to whether they had so far received the word of the families of the deceased couple and had in turn passed on the information to judicial authorities.

Previous hearings

In previous hearings, the prosecution claimed that the charge of ‘disobedience to order’ Petre stands accused of resulted from his decision to carry people on a vehicle which was not intended for passengers.  The prosecution contended that his criminal action began from the moment he allowed the couple to ride with him on the vehicle.

According to Article 88 of the Penal Code, disobedience to order is a crime and according to Article 88(c), if the result of violating the article is linked to a death, the case shall be dealt accordingly to Islamic Sharia.  The prosecution has previously contended that under Islamic Sharia, if an offender’s action is found to caused the death of a person, the offender shall be punished.

Under the Maldivian constitution, courts resort to Sharia in areas established law does not cover.

Presiding Judge Abdul Baary Yousuf declared in court during earlier hearings that Petre’s lawyer had himself confessed during the trial that his client had driven the quad bike carrying Emma and Jonathan Gray as it crashed on the tourist property.  As a result of this confession, the judge said the state did not have to produce any evidence to prove Petre was the driver of the vehicle during the collision.

Representing the prosecution, State Attorney Aishath Fazna also contended that because Petre had “confessed” to driving the quad bike, she did not believe the state had to produce evidence to support this assumption.

However, Petre’s lawyer Areef Ahmed responded at the time that his client had not directly confessed to driving the quad bike and argued that his client continued to deny the charges against him.  Areef additionally claimed that the judge could not declare a verdict regarding the alleged confession said to have been during the previous hearing.

Areef contended that his confession could be withdrawn before the case reached to a conclusion, but the state attorney argued that after confessing in the trial, there was no way it can be withdrawn.

Petre’s lawyer has also contended that his client could not be charged under Islamic Sharia because his client is non-Muslim.

“Most tragic event”

Following the quad-bike incident in 2011, Filip’s father Lars Petre provided a statement to Minivan News in which he described the accident as “by far the most tragic event in my life, and words cannot describe how saddened we are. I and my family are deeply concerned with errors on some of the media reports and we are also deeply saddened by some accusations made at my son.”

“My son Filip Petre (23 years) was taking the two guests home, to the other side of the island, when he experienced some difficulties with the bike, and crashed headlong into a tree on the road. The crash took two lives and badly injured my son,” he added.

“He fell unconscious with the crash and woke up some time later to find the two deceased also lying on the road. He immediately called for help and worked alongside with the doctor who arrived to try and save the victims of the crash, while he was bleeding himself,” Lars Petre said.


Quad-bike in Kuredu fatal accident was registered and driver licensed

The quad-bike involved in the crash on Kuredu Island Resort, which claimed the lives of British honeymooners Emma and Jonathan Gray, was legally registered to the resort as a tractor according to registration documents obtained by Minivan News today.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik had previously alleged during an emergency motion in parliament last week that the King Quad 700 vehicle was not legally registered with the Maldives Transport Authority, and that the driver, 23 year-old Swedish national Filip Eugen Petre, was not licensed to operate it.

Opposition MPs accused Manik of indulging a personal vendetta against the resort’s owner, Champa ‘Uchoo’ Mohamed Moosa, in retaliation for coverage by Champa’s private DhiTV station of an incident last year in which 168 bottles of alcohol were found in Manik’s car while he was outside the country.

Manik further alleged in parliament that attempts were made to “to hide the boy [Petre] and put the blame [for the accident] on a Maldivian employee in the resort.”

When Minivan News contacted Manik today, he maintained that he had been informed by a person working on the resort that the vehicle was unregistered. He also claimed that foreigners who wished to drive in the Maldives were required to register with the Ministry of Transport.

“I have been watching that island for a long time and they are doing a lot of illegal things,” he alleged. “I am bringing this up in the national interest, not because of Champa. I don’t want this to happen on another resort otherwise it will affect the industry.”

Following widespread media coverage of Manik’s claims in parliament Jonathan’s mother, Cath Davies, called for a full inquiry into the accident “as somebody, somewhere, is responsible for having allowed that quad to be on the island, and those keys to be available to the young man who was unlicensed and unregistered.”

According to registration papers obtained by Minivan News, the 172 kilogram Suzuki 2007 King Quad 700 4X4 was imported on May 5 2007 and registered on August 2 the same year.

Minivan News also obtained a copy of Petre’s Swedish category B driving license, which would in Sweden, the UK and many other European countries, legally allow the operation of a four-wheeled motorcycle as well as a car.

According to Police Inspector Mohamed Riyaz, who is leading the investigation into the Kuredu accident, under Maldivian law foreign nationals with a valid overseas license are also able to drive in the country for a period of up to 90 days without a local license.

Riyaz said police were in the process of determining whether the quad-bike had been appropriately registered. He confirmed that the vehicle had been registered as a tractor under the ‘C1′ category “used for vehicles transporting goods, not passengers.”

“If it had been properly registered it would be under the A1 category and the driver would require a motorcycle license, as it has a fuel engine and is a very powerful 700cc,” he said.

He also noted that the vehicle was not designed to carry passengers other than the driver, and carried a warning to that effect.

Filip Petre was seriously injured in the accident and remains in hospital in Male’, following the confiscation of his passport on the order of the Criminal Court. Inspector Riyaz said that an application for Petre to be taken abroad for further medical treatment three days ago had been declined, “as police believed that based on the medical report there was no imminent threat to his life.”

Inspector Riyaz said Petre’s family had approached the court to appeal the decision, and added that police were open to his treatment overseas if medical opinion was that urgent diagnosis was necessary.

In a statement to Minivan News, Filip’s father Lars Petre, a shareholder in the resort, described the accident as “by far the most tragic event in my life, and words cannot describe how saddened we are. I and my family are deeply concerned with errors on some of the media reports and we are also deeply saddened by some accusations made at my son.”

“My son Filip Petre (23 years) was taking the two guests home, to the other side of the island, when he experienced some difficulties with the bike, and crashed headlong into a tree on the road. The crash took two lives and badly injured my son.

“He fell unconscious with the crash and woke up some time later to find the two deceased also lying on the road. He immediately called for help and worked alongside with the doctor who arrived to try and save the victims of the crash, while he was bleeding himself.

“The quad bike which my son was driving was registered and my son Filip is licensed to drive such vehicles. My son Filip and his brother Tom (who was the first to arrive at the scene of the accident with the doctor), the management and staff of Kuredhu have been cooperating with the police investigation fully, and I give every assurance that they will continue to do so in the future.

“We understand the grief of the families who lost their loved ones in the accident, and we also respect the duty of the Maldives Police Service to investigate the matter. However the fact remains that what happened on August 6 is an accident, a very tragic fatal event, which my son no anyone else had the power to change.

“I wish to assure to the families of the deceased, the media and the public that there was absolutely no ill intention whatsoever in this accident. While my son and the staff of Kuredhu are shattered with the result of the accident, we remain helpless to change anything that has happened.

“The management of Kuredhu will do whatever is possible to corporate with the investigation and to avoid further distress for all families concerned.”


Mother of Jonathan Gray calls for full inquiry into Kuredu quad-bike accident

The mother of a British honeymooner who died when the quad-bike he was riding on crashed into a tree on Kuredu Island Resort has called for a full investigation into the couple’s death.

Jonathan Gray and his wife Emma Gray, both 25, had been married on July 30 in West Yorkshire. They were killed a week later on August 6 at 4:00am on a Saturday morning.

Jonathan’s mother Cath Davies told the BBC she had been led to understand that the vehicle was unregistered and the driver unlicensed, and called for a full investigation to prevent such a tragedy from reoccurring.

“Somebody, somewhere, is responsible for having allowed that quad to be on the island, and those keys to be available to the young man who was unlicensed and unregistered. I’m sure I’m not mistaken, but he shouldn’t have been there,” she said.

“The lad himself, my heart goes out to him and his family because he has done something reckless and really foolish which has ended in the most tragic way possible, but he never meant for this to happen. I don’t want the responsibility to be solely his.”

The driver of the quad-bike, subsequently identified by police as Swedish national Filip Petre, a guest relations officer and son of one of the resort’s shareholders, remains in hospital in Male’ being treated for injuries he sustained during the accident.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that Petre’s was not under arrest but that his passport had been confiscated pending the outcome of the investigation, as was standard procedure in such serious cases. If Petre’s injuries required him to receive treatment outside the Maldives, “that would be a matter for our legal officers.”

Shiyam said that police had completed examining the scene of the accident and were now working to conclude the investigation as swiftly as possible.

In an emergency motion in parliament last week MDP MP ‘Reeko Moosa Manik alleged that the King Quad 700 was unregistered and Petre unlicensed to operate it.

Opposition MPs claimed that Reeko Moosa’s motion was a “personal attack” against the owner of the resort, Champa ‘Uchoo’ Mohamed Moosa, in retaliation for Champa’s television network DhiTV’s coverage of alcohol bottles found in Reeko’s car last year.

The bodies of the couple were reported to have been flown back to the UK for the funeral. Davies told the BBC that the fact the couple had been married and had enjoyed six happy years together had made the tragedy easier to endure.

“They had that day. It was perfect. Both were fantastically successful in their own lives and have their wonderful little boy. It was so perfect for them. It was almost too perfect,” she said.

The Gray’s six-month old child, Jake, will grow up “much loved by all his family,” Davies told the BBC. “He is a very happy little baby and will grow up into a wonderful man just like his father.”


Driver of quad-bike was son of resort shareholder, police reveal

The Maldives Police Service have identified the driver of the quad-bike that crashed and killed two British honeymooners on Kuredu Island Resort as 23 year-old Swedish national Filip Eugen Petre.

Filip Petre is the son of a shareholder of the company that operates the resort, and was employed by the company as a guest relations officer trainee, police stated.

The young couple from West Yorkshire, Emma and Jonathan Gray, were riding on the quad-bike as passengers when it collided with a tree around 4:00am on August 6. The UK press reported that the couple had been married for just seven days and had a six-month old son, Jake.

A quad bike of the kind police said was involved in the Kuredu accident

“Investigation into the incident has so far revealed that the accident occurred while the three were riding a four-wheel vehicle – a King Quad 700 – and crashed into a tree in the middle of the path,” police said in a statement today.

“Upon hearing of the accident the island doctor went to the scene of the accident and attempted to treat the victims, but told police that there was no sign of life from the two English tourists.”

Filip Petre suffered injuries in the crash and is currently being treated in hospital in Male’.

Jonathan Gray’s twin brother Michael told the Yorkshire Post that the family was “absolutely on our knees. We’re in shock and all pulling together as one big family.”

“They were the perfect couple. They were both high flyers, both doing well in their careers. They had such a great future ahead of them.”They were soulmates and their little boy was so special to them. Jake’s with us at the moment, with family,” he said.

Emma and Jonathan Gray

Meanwhile students at West Yorkshire primary school – at which Emma Gray was a teacher – were being offered counselling following her death.

Deputy Head teacher Liz Whetham told the Post that Gray was an “outstanding” teacher and that staff and pupils were devastated.

“At the moment we’re taking each day as it comes, but we will be organising a memorial event for Emma in September, and setting up a book of condolence,” Whetham told the paper.


Couple who died in Kuredu crash had been married for just seven days

The young couple who died following a quad bike accident at Kuredu Island Resort early on Saturday morning have been identified in the UK press as Emma and Jonathan Gray.

The two British honeymooners, who were aged in their mid-twenties and had a six-month old child, had only been married for seven days when the quad bike they were riding on as passengers crashed into a tree, reported the Daily Mail, among others.

The driver, a foreign national who has not yet been formally identified by police, was injured in the accident and is reportedly being treated in ADK Hospital in Male’. Minivan News understands that the driver was not a staff member at the resort.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that the vehicle involved in the incident – initially reported in the local media to be a golf buggy of the kind commonly used in the Maldives to transport guests and their luggage – was a quad bike.

The vehicle collided with a tree and police were informed by resort management at 4:15am that two guests had been found with injuries.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that Jonathan Gray died at the scene of the incident while Emma Gray died before she could be taken to hospital for treatment.

“Police are investigating how this incident occurred. We are confident at this point that it was an accident,” Shiyam told Minivan News.

Minivan News understands that the UK High Commission is assisting with the investigation.

The resort has meanwhile told media that it is unable to make a statement while the incident is being investigated by police.

Another British national, 42-year old Sharon Duval, died on Kuredu in October 2010, also while honeymooning with her husband, after her body was found on the beach by another guest.

An Oxfordshire inquest into Duval’s death ruled out “any third party involvement” while a portmortem conducted in the UK found that her blood alcohol level was three and a half times the legal UK driving limit, and gave the cause of death as accidental drowning with a contribution of alcohol intoxication.